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LUCY AYLMER. 



BY THE AUTHOR OF 



"the curate OE OVERTON." 



If thou do ill; the joy fades, not the pains : 
K well ; the pain doth fade, the joy remains. 

GEORGE HEHBEET. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL 11. 



LONDON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 
1857. 



LONDON : 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 



8^3 



LUCY AYLMEK. 



CHAPTER I. 

" And when thou wast gone, 
I felt an aching here. I did not speak 
To any one that day. But from that day 
Bartoleme grew hateful unto me." 

LONGFELLOW. 

The Squire was fairly beaten : Augusta on 
one side and Archer on the other, had argued 
and persuaded so successfully, that Mr. Neville 
actually agreed to allow Maude and Lucy to 
accompany their aunt on her return to to^vn. 
Archer had particularly pressed it on his 
brother, pleaded the finishing their education, 
forming their ideas, &c. — but his real 
motive for wishing it so much was this : the 
Lady Plora had conceived a great attachment 

VOL. II. B 



2 LUCY AYLMER. 

for Lucy. Archer observed everything, and 
turned everything to account — even this girl- 
ish friendship. In the latter end of April, the 
Countess and her daughters were to take up 
their residence in Park Lane. What would 
then attract the Lady Flora so much to the house 
in May-Fair, as its being for a time, the abode 
of the gentle Lucy ? Archer looked forward 
into the future and foresaw this, foresaw op- 
portunities, otherwise impossible, of frequent 
meetings with the Lady Flora, whom he 
adored all the more, because he could not 
openly declare it. The day following that 
happy evening, when Lucy's paper gained 
so much applause. Lord Glendowan had been 
sent for suddenly from the Highlands, as it 
was supposed the Lady Damer was dying. 
Her noble brother departed in all haste, after 
a warm adieu to his fiancee. Flora cried 
when he went, not from sorrow, but a melan- 
choly feeling took possession of her, an augury 
of future ill, and she sat sadly in the Ghost's 
Turret that evening, resolved to keep out of 
the way of Archer Neville. But this was im- 
possible ; he remained at Castle St. Agnes, a 
week after Lord Glendowan. Oh ! how Flora 



LUCY AYLMER. 3 

wished him gone ! Never was she alone in 
the saloon, or wandering solitary in the Park, 
but Archer seemed to come across her. How 
cleverly did he converse — how kindly draw 
out her opinion on the subject of which they 
happened to be talking — how he concealed 
his own learning and encouraged hers ! and 
finally he flattered her so adroitly, so artfully, 
that it would have required one keener than 
herself to perceive it ! Then also did he show 
her manifold little attentions, careful, unob- 
trusive, visible to no one but herself ; winning, 
fascinating, but yet painful to the Lady Mora ; 
for she was not free, she was Lord Glen- 
dowan's. AVhat right had she then to receive 
attentions from Archer Neville ? 

She longed for the week to be over — and it 
passed by and was gone Hke a dream ! and 
she stood by Lucy's side and wished Archer 
good-bye in the hall. She thought he pressed 
her hand, and she felt the look he cast on her 
was pleading and carried love in its glance. 
She coloured deeply and turned away, and 
when she looked again, he was gone ! The 
Lady Mora was absent and gloomy the rest 
of the day; a cold dreariness hanging over 

B 2 



4 LUCY AYLMER. 

her. She missed Archer by her side at dinner ; 
she missed their evening hours at chess, when 
his voice ever and anon murmured soft and 
low some half-expressed sentence of devotion. 
And the Lady Flora wished Archer back, 
yet wept at the wish, for to her it seemed 
sinful, she the betrothed of Lord Glendowan ! 
And at night when her eyes closed in sleep, 
she dreamt that she was being married to 
Archer, then awoke and trembled at her 
dream, as though she could help it, poor Lady 
Flora ! Then a former desire came again into 
her heart, that there were Protestant convents : 
her life was useless ; she would so gladly enrol 
herself among a Protestant sisterhood, and 
give herself up to good works ! Ah ! Lady 
Flora, there are good works to be performed 
without convent walls. Read your Bible and 
you will find it so ! 

Augusta did not accompany her brother 
home ; the Countess persuaded her to remain 
till Lent commenced, when her nieces would 
return with her, for then, and not till then, 
would the Countess part with ]\Iaude and 
Lucy. They were to hve very quietly during 
Lent, pass their mornings in study, the after- 



LUCY AYLMER. 

noon in walking or driving, and occasionally 
enliven their evenings by an oratorio or a con- 
cert. At Easter, Miss Neville always re- 
paired to Brighton. It would be April then ; 
and the Squire was to join them in town, and 
either take his daughters home, or leave them 
for the season, as he felt inchned and they 
wished. Hard frosts and severe snow-storms, 
considerably retarded the repairs at the Manor, 
which could not be completed until March or 
April. The Squire determined to take up his 
residence in the uninjured wing, and super- 
intend in person the rebuilding, and thus 
hasten the workmen. Cecil Erresford left the 
Castle at the end of January for Park Lane, 
to be ready for the opening of Parliament : he 
felt sorry to quit his home circle, his sister 
Flora, and Lucy whom he loved like a sister. 
It might have been something more, only that 
lie saw how her heart clung to Robert, and 
Robert's to her. It was a keen disappointment, 
for he imagined there could be no one else on 
earth so good as Lucy. Augusta Neville's 
designs on him failed, but she was not daunted 
— wait till he sees me in town — she thought — 
where I am the centre of attraction in my 



6 LUCY AYLMER. 

circles, and he will be the first man who has 
been proof against me ! So reasoned hand- 
some Miss Neville. Poor Augusta 1 she was 
growing sadly ennuyee, now the gentlemen of 
their party were so much thinned, and rather 
longed for the day of their departure. To pass 
the time, she occupied herself with Lucy, 
devoting some hours every day to practising 
music and singing and reading French with 
her. Maude had made friends with Agnese, 
and gained Lady Anne's permission to study 
Itahan with her during her stay at the Castle. 
Agnese was a person of superior education ; she 
was a protegee of the Marchesa Elmo, where 
Lady Anne first met her. The Padre Anas- 
tasio, the Marchesa's brother, had himself di- 
rected the education of Agnese, who was now 
more a confidante than maid to the Lady 
Anne, who had other attendants under 
Agnese. 

It was the morning of Ash Wednesday. The 
Castle party was assembled in the breakfast- 
room : the Lady Anne only was wanting ; a 
chair was left vacant for her beside Squire 
Neville, when the door suddenly opened 
and she came in. Lucy started and turned 



LUCY AYLMER. 7 

pale — tall and stately looked the Lady Anne ; 
but what had happened? Wherefore was 
her Ladyship clad in robes of the deepest 
mourning? Why did black crape hang 
heavily over the bombazine of her dress, 
and not one particle of white appear either 
on collar or sleeves ? She could not have 
been more sable clad had it been the 
funeral- day of the Countess ? Maude opened 
her eyes with wonder and astonishment ; she 
did not comprehend it — nor could the Squire, 
unsophisticated man ! understand the mean- 
ing of this sudden change in her costume ; 
and he became still more puzzled, when the 
Lady Anne stedfastly refused all the offered 
dishes, and made her breakfast off a single 
cup of tea, and slice of dry bread. Poor 
Lucy was alarmed, Lady Anne, she thought, 
must be very ill, or perhaps it was the anni- 
versary of the death of some one she loved ! — 
Maude and her father were not so charitable 
in their suppositions, but set down this change 
of attire, as another of Lady Anne's eccentri- 
cities. Lucy grew more and more uncom- 
fortable ; and, at last, summoning up all her 
slender stock of courage, and with cheeks of 



8 LUCY AYLMER. 

carnation hue, she said in meek tones, " I am 
afraid you are ill, Lady Anne ?" 

" Not in the least, Lucy, thank you," she 
replied courteously. 

" Oh I thought something was the matter," 
added Lucy bashfully. Lady Anne knew 
Lucy was in earnest, for she never ridiculed 
any one. Lady Flora whispered low to Lucy 
something in which the word " Lent," was 
heard ; but still innocent Lucy was in dark- 
ness. How was Lent possibly connected with 
Lady Anne's mourning attire ? Lent was 
a time when Lucy every year had gone more 
frequently to church, and offered up her holy 
prayers in the old pew near the font — and 
she had listened reverently to the lessons and 
liked to ponder over the beautiful history 
she learned from them — Religion to her was 
something very exquisitely simple; she took 
it entirely from the Bible and there she learnt 
that the " pure in heart shall see God — that 
the merciful are blessed — that the ways of 
religion are ways of pleasantness and all her 
paths are peace — that Christ loved little 
children." — She w^as not a httle child now ! No, 
not in years, but she was a child in purity — 



LUCY AYLMER. 9 

in guilelessness — and she still read day by 
day our Saviour's words, " suffer little children 
to come unto me" — and in her prayers, 
mentioned herself as a child. It never 
once occurred to her that a dark garb, or 
weeks of penance were necessary to win 
the heavenly crown she delighted to read 
of ; or that merit consisted in attending church 
day after day, till the services she loved, and 
the Sunday her heart dehghted in more 
than any day in seven, became wearisome. 
She thought in her simplicity that the Bible 
and Prayer Book were the guides of all 
churchmen; and that if they kept to them, 
they could not go wrong ; but she had yet 
to learn how numbers, falsely called church- 
men, altogether reject the Bible, and differ 
from the articles and creeds of the very 
Prayer Book they profess to set up as their 
standard ! Ah, fair child ! there is much 
which in thy quiet home is hidden from 
thee; much it were better thou should'st never 
know — much of the world's wickedness — 
its hypocrisies and its cheats that will make 
thy young heart sore, while yet the sunshine 
should be playing o'er it, and the rough 



10 LUCY AYLMER. 

winds warded off, by the very hands that 
shall draw them down on thee ! 

"I wish, Anne," Lady Flora said after 
breakfast, when the Countess and the Squire 
had withdrawn, " you would not put on that 
ugly mourning every Lent. It is so unbe- 
coming, if you only knew how much older 
it makes you look." 

" I think. Flora, it would be far better if 
you did not dictate," replied Lady Anne. 

" Oh, Anne ! I do not dictate," said Lady 
Flora in an apologetic tone, " only it is such 
a pity : if I did not care for you, I should not 
say anything about it ; but I dislike to see 
you look so dismal." 

" What is the use of wearing mourning 
in Lent?" asked Maude. "I never saw it 
before." 

" Maude, you do not understand the 
Church's year," was the short reply. 

"What? Lady Anne !" exclaimed Maude. 
" I thought there was only one kind of year, 
with twelve calendar months in it ?" 

Maude looked dreadfully impertinent. 

" The Church's year begins with Advent, 
and ends the last Sunday after Trinity," Lady 



LUCY AYLMER. 11 

Anne said coldly ; "and there are times and 
seasons in that year wliich we are enjoined to 
observe." 

"Most people go to church on Ash-Wed- 
nesday, but why should they go into mourn- 
ing for Lent? It is not dead, we shall see 
dozens more," said the saucy Maude. 

" We cannot tell but this may be our last," 
replied Lady Anne, in a low, solemn tone, 
that made her sister shudder. 

" Do you wear mourning to-day because 
you think you may not live till next year ?" 
exclaimed Maude, with a look of astonish- 
ment. " That is a new idea. Lady Anne, and 
at that rate, why not put on crape every 
Christmas, or even every day for the same 
reason ?" 

" You do not understand the days or sea- 
sons," replied Lady Anne, who was rather 
vain of her fortitude, and thought herself a 
martyr, because she occasionally got laughed 
at for her rehgious follies ; for she did what 
every one should so carefully avoid, she made 
religion appear ridiculous. 

" But what have the days and seasons to 



12 LUCY AYLMER. 

do with your wearing black to-day, Lady 
Anne ?" persisted Maude. 

Lady Anne turned round to Lucy, who 
stood by, a silent and astonished hearer. 
" Lucy," she said, " you are more thoughtful 
and reverent than your sister. Tell me why is 
Lent observed ?" 

Lucy coloured at being so pointedly ad- 
dressed, then replied in her gentle tones, 
"We celebrate in Lent, the forty days and 
forty nights which our Saviour passed in the 
desert." 

Lady Anne looked satisfied. "Yes," she 
exclaimed, in an impassioned tone the girls 
had never heard her use before, " yes ! for 
forty days our Holy Church bows herself 
down, and we prostrate and humble our- 
selves, and fast and mourn even as our Lord 
Himself fasted and mourned. Our souls are 
sorrowful — acts of penance, works of mercy, 
alone soften our hearts and sorrows, which in- 
crease more and more till the awful day ar- 
rives, which is the climax of the Church's 
affliction. Then does darkness enshroud our 
churches, darkness enshroud ourselves; and 



LUCY AYLMER. 13 

we lie prostrate before our altars, in weeping 
and supplication, till the Church's triumph 
day arrives : then do flowers adorn our 
churches instead of their sable hangings, and 
we ourselves in garments of brightness, rejoice 
that our Lord is risen ! Yes ! on Easter day, 
the Church's full triumph comes. Oh, blessed 
day ! who does not hail its approach with great 
rejoicing !" She looked around ; her eyes met 
Lucy's so full of wonder, her face wearing 
that expression of almost painful surprise, 
which the propounding of any new and 
strange doctrine, for the first time sounding 
on our ears, often calls forth. Lady Anne 
said, in a voice of compassion. " Ah ! Lucy 
child ! you have yet to learn the full blessedness 
of that Holy Catholic Church to which we 
belong." 

Maude had been silent. Her large, deep eyes 
were fixed in confused wonderment on Lady 
Anne's countenance, but now she burst forth 
in indignant tones. 

" Indeed, Lady Anne, neither Lucy nor I 
are Catholics. Our church is as Protestant as 
any in England, and we were christened there !" 



14 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Ah ! that Holy Baptism," murmured 
Lady Anne, " wherein the Church saved you, 
and made you all her own !" 

" Did you learn all these strange things in 
London, Lady Anne ? Because if you did, I 
would rather not go there. I will not be made 
a Cathohc, no, not for anyone !" 

" But you are a Catholic, Maude, and no- 
thing will ever unmake you," replied Lady 
Anne, coldly. 

" Prove it, Lady Anne !" exclaimed Maude. 

Lucy thought Maude spoke too warmly, and 
she feared Lady Anne would think her rude, 
so she said, in a soft tone of apology : 

" A great many years ago, one of mamma's 
ancestors was burnt by Catholics : you can 
read about it in the Martyrs ; and Maude and 
I do not like to be classed with them." 

" Lucy, you are mistaken," Lady Anne re- 
phed in her usual cold manner. " Those were 
Roman, but we are Anglo- Catholics. They dif- 
fer from us shghtly ; but the time may come 
when we shall be united." 

" Make them Protestants first," grumbled 
Maude. 



LUCY ATLMER. 15 

Lady Flora bent over her work and sighed. 

" Oh ! these endless disputes !" she mur- 
mured. 

Maude put her hands to her flushed cheeks, 
and sauntered out on the terrace, and began 
to sing, "Begone dull Care." Her first dis- 
cussion with Lady Anne made Httle impression 
on her volatile mind, but with Lucy it was far 
otherwise ; she went slowly up the wide oak 
staircase to dress for church, her mind feeling 
painfully confused, and her young face looking 
grave. The first of Lady Anne's shadows had 
fallen upon her — Protestants were Catholics, 
and Baptism saved you ! This was strange, she 
wished she had never heard it ! 

" You must not attend to Anne." Lady 
Mora said, as Lucy and herself walked to 
church together. " Anne is so odd — she is 
half a Roman Cathohc, though she pretends 
not to be." 

"Do many people think like Lady Anne ?" 
Lucy asked anxiously. 

" Oh, numbers !" rephed Flora. " I do 
not agree with her and never shall, and 
Cecil does not ; but mamma does in some 



16 LUCY AYLMER. 

measure ; it is fashionable — but mamma is 
not like Anne." 

Lucy looked disappointed and still more 
mystified — " Fashionable !" she murmured 
to herself — and a ' fashionable rehgion' 
seemed a strange sounding title ! Lucy 
was rather early in church, and she read in 
her old brown Bible a few of her favourite 
verses, which she had marked with a pencil ; 
and as she read, peace returned to her mind, 
and she ceased to - think of the morning's 
conversation. 

That Ash Wednesday seemed all bustle 
to Lucy : they were to leave dear old Forsted 
on the morrow, and there was no end of 
people who wanted to bid Maude and Lucy 
farewell. Some of their poor village friends 
had made them pin-cushions and needlebooks, 
they said, for the journey, as though London 
were America, or any such far off land ; and 
Lucy promised to write to one or two of 
her favourite old women, w^ho kissed her 
hands and blessed her, and promised to 
pray for her when she was gone ; and then 
they cried and sobbed, as if the parting 



LUCY AYLMER. 17 

were for ever, and Lucy was quite distressed 
and cried too, till Robert came to find her, 
and carry her off for a walk in the fields. 
Maude was detained behind by some farmers' 
daughters, who had visited the metropolis 
and were immensely proud of their journey, 
and talked a great deal of ' Busses and them 
lovely theatres /' and told Maude not to forget 
to be on the look out for the Ethiopian 
Serenaders, nor to omit a visit to St. Paul's ! 
The Miss Perkins had lodged hard by the 
Cathedral, and had been wonderfully impres- 
sed with the " moniements r When Maude 
had heard these young ladies out, Lucy and 
Robert were lost sight of — so she went to the 
Manor to look for her father. The poor 
Squire was, what he was pleased to style, 
rather down in the mouth 1 Now the time 
came for them to leave, he was reluctant 
to part with his girls, and made many 
promises of soon having a run up to town 
to look after them. Something of the 
kind also entered Robert's mind, though 
he kept his thoughts a secret : he never 
knew how he loved Lucy, till he was parting 
from her ! — 



18 LUCY AYLMER. 

*' You will not forget me, will you, Lucy ?" 
he asked as they walked along. 

" Oh, no ! never Robert !" she replied, " and 
you will write and tell me all the news, and 
how my old women get on ?" 

Lucy and Robert had corresponded for 
years. 

" You shall have such long letters," he 
answered, " and I vnll send you some flowers 
in them/' 

" Poor dear flowers ! I shall not see many 
when I go," she observed mournfully. 

" Oh ! there are beautiful gardens in 
London," said Robert "where you will see 
roses in summer, finer than you ever saw even 
at Lady Fairfield's." 

Lncy was silent for some moments, and 
then she said, " I shall be glad to come home 
again, Robert." 

"And I shall be more glad than you can 
think to have you here again. Eorsted will 
be so dull without you." 

"Lady Flora says she shall miss us very 
much ; it is nice to be missed, because it shows 
people love you !" said Lucy simply. 



LUCY AYLMER. 19 

" Ah, it does indeed !" murmured Robert 
with feeUng. 

" Take care of papa for us/' continued 
Lucy, " and poor old Tawney, and my garden ; 
do not let the workmen trample it down, if 
you can help it — and please plant those seeds 
Maude gave you, in your garden — you will 
want flowers to look gay when we return." 

" I shall have the church-bells rung when 
you do — such a peal !" said Robert. 

Lucy smiled. "Do you know, Robert, I 
have got such an odd wish into my head about 
the beUs ?" 

" What is it, dear Lucy ?" 

" You wdll say it is silly, but I should so 
like to hear them ring once more before we 
leave to-night, before the ringers go to bed. 
Oh ! the sounds do come so sweetly across to 
the Castle, they seem quite heavenly." 

" Poor Lady Anne, if she hears them \" said 
Robert musingly. " I should like to obHge you 
dear Lucy, but then it is Lent." ' 

" Oh ! never mind," repHed Lucy, a little 
disappointed. Nevertheless in spite of Lent, 
a peal now soft, now loud, now falling, was 
wafted across the clear, still air, that night. 



20 LUCY AYLMER. 

Lucy was in her own room. She had retired 
to rest early, preparatory to the fatigues of the 
next day — so she cared not what Lady Anne 
thought. She only felt how heavenly the 
sounds were ! and how much Robert loved 
her ! 

Fond, affectionate Robert ! He was at 
Castle St. Agnes, early that parting morning, 
wished tender good-byes and watched the 
travellers off, then he went and strolled alone in 
one direction, while the Squire quite heart- 
broken at those last looks, those last kisses, 
wandered away in another. Lady Flora went 
into her own room to solace herself with her 
paintings ; but, instead, blinded her eyes with 
tears. On the Saturday morning following, 
three little notes rested in the postman's bag, 
one for the Squire, one for Lady Flora, and 
another for Robert. In the Squire's, Maude 
wrote on one side the paper, and Lucy the 
other. Maude said, she thought the journey 
would never end; that there was so much 
smoke in London, that her face was all oyer 
blacks before she arrived at May -Fair; that 
the noise of carriages in the night was terrible ; 
that the houses looked dismal, and stood side 



LUCY AYLMER. 21 

by side in hundreds ; and tliat London 
might turn out jolly after all, but it did not 
look so ! Lucy told her father how she missed 
him; that the stars shone by night, though 
the sky was dark by day ; that Aunt Augusta 
had hyacinths in her windows ; and that the 
poor people in the streets looked so miserable, 
it made her sad ; and she wished they could 
see the fields and hills at Forsted. She wrote 
much in the same way to Lady Flora and 
Robert. Only in Robert's letter she added 
messages to the villagers, and called herself at 
the end, his " dear sister Lucv." 



22 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER TL 

" Whatever wea or woe betide, 

Turn never from the way of truth aside." 

SOUTHEY. 

Cecil Erresford took a number of Black- 
wood off a table strewn over with papers, and 
sat down in a window of his club to read. 
He had not, however, read long, before some- 
thing reminded him, that he had miopened 
letters in his pocket. How could he have 
forgotten them so long ? Both bore the post 
mark of Sleebury and one had on its seal, the 
impress of the Aylmer Arms. He opened the 
first and read ; and so ran the letter : — 

" Dear Erresford, 
" You will wonder why I have suffered so 
short a space of time to intervene between my 



LUCY AYLMER. 23 

last letter and this, but the reason is soon 
told. I have a request to make, not for 
myself, but for St. Walburga. Our organ is 
purchased. I concluded the bargain for Lady 
Anne, on Saturday. Lord Glendowan was 
with me, and thinks we have chosen well. He 
played " In verdure clad," from the Creation ; 
and the swell on the notes was perfect, and 
threw the Countess, who was one of our party, 
into ecstacies. But now, Erresford, comes 
the difficulty. Through the bounty of Lady 
Anne, we are presented with an organ ; our 
furniture is bought — but we have no room to 
put it in. In the body of the church, it is 
impossible, we have measured and tried every 
way, but in vain. The only place for our 
splendid instrument is the gallery ; with slight 
alterations, it would stand there admirably ; 
but the gallery is entirely appropriated to 
the use of Castle St. Agnes. In fact, as you 
know, it is your family pew. Now, the 
Countess and your sister suggest, that it 
should be given up to the new and good use 
1 have mentioned ; and by throwing out the 
chancel, a pew could be made, more comfor- 



24 LUCY AYLMER. 

table and better arranged, in place of the 
present one. Lady Anne kindly volunteers 
to take upon herself the expense of the altera- 
tions, and nothing is wanting but your 
consent, for you know, Erresford, I would 
not undertake anything of the kind without 
asking it. We await it anxiously, and con- 
fidently rely upon not being disappointed. I 
have no news to offer you, and if I speak of 
myself, it will be but to say how I daily w^eary 
and sicken of a bachelor life ! Lady Anne 
would fain persuade me that a clergyman, to 
attain at all to a state of thorough self-denial 
and alienation from the world, should renounce 
all thoughts of a married life ( mind, I have 
not been confessing to her my heart's hope), 
but in casual conversation she expressed these 
opinions, and I have no doubt they are 
correct, for those who have their hearts and 
minds given over to the Church and her 
alone ; but I fear I am not one of these — ^long 
ago my choice has been fixed, and I 
only wait till a few more months have rolled 
over my Lucy's head, before I seal my fate, 
either one way or the other. All this, how- 



LrCY ATLMER. 25 

ever, is strictly between ourselves, I tell you 
everj^thing unreservedly ; few men have a 
friend in whom they can so confide — but you 
are one in a thousand ! An early answer as to 
the pew question. I know you will consent ; 
it cannot signify where the prayers are said, so 
long as the church walls enclose you. 
" In haste, my beloved friend, 

" Your's in a Avorld of gratitude, 
" Robert Aylmer." 

" P.S. Mostyn of Ackington is staying 
at the Castle, a noble fellow, but rather too 
high-soaring in views. He has inundated and 
rather puzzled me with books of his own 
school. Do not be afraid, I feel fire-proof." 

" So many a man has said who is now in 
the Church of Rome, my good fellow !" Erres- 
ford said to himself as he closed Robert's let- 
ter, and opened the other. It was from the 
Countess ; full of the organ from beginning to 
end ; and impressing strongly on her son, the 
necessity of the new pew. " iVnne has it so 
much at heart," she concluded, " that if you 
refuse, it will seem like a personal opposition 
to her wishes." 

VOL. I. c 



26 LUCY AYLMER. 

" There is no possible harm in an organ," 
so wrote Cecil in reply to Robert, "or any 
harm in rebuilding ns a pew ; indeed, if you 
take away the old one, it is but fair (as we 
said in our school-days) to replace it. Entre 
nous, I do not suppose the Countess and Flora 
would like to put away all distinctions and sit 
down side by side with the worthy farmers, 
although poor Anne — but no, I will let her 
religious peculiarities rest in peace. Do not 
allow Mostyn to have a finger in the alterations ; 
and mind, I strictly forbid any finery about 
the new chancel. A noble simplicity is what 
we should aim at in our churches ; the heavy 
architecture and rigid purity of the Reforma- 
tion should never be deviated from. Beware 
of Mostyn 's books, and Mostyn's views. I en- 
tertain no respect for him ; he would be much 
more nohle in my eyes, if he walked straight over 
to Rome ! In this polite nineteenth century, 
when each one professes to be more enligh- 
tened than his ancestors, I think instead of 
advancing in rehgion, we are fast going back 
to the thraldom of that yoke which our fore- 
fathers cast off", but to which now, so many 
of our clergy incline, and cause their people to 



LUCY AYLMER. 27 

incline, the gentle yoke of Rome 1 One is 
bored by controversies on all sides, and bored 
with fooleries too. 

" Young ladies turn their dressing-rooms into 
private oratories, and worship the long-coated 
gentry who hear their confessions. Ladies 
bordering on thirty eschew matrimony and 
form sisterhoods ! Heio;h-ho ! what next ? 

"But a truce to this. There will not be 
much fear of your taking a Romish dodge 
with such a wife in view — Aylmer, when you 
have won her, you may rejoice, for there is no 
flower so fair in Christendom ; then cherish her 
and love her as you would an angel, if one 
came down to you ! I am going to call on 
Miss Neville this afternoon, and shall get a 
peep of your ' Pairie Queen,' if she is not deep 
in Itahan or the sweet melody of her dove-like 
voice. Fare-thee-well, 

" Yours, 
" Cecil Eruesford." 

" The Fairie Queen" was neither occupied 
with Itahan nor singing when Cecil Erresford 
called, but sitting by the drawing-room fire 
reading. She had just come in from a drive. 

c 2 



28 LUCY AYLKER. 

and had thrown off her bonnet and mantle on 
a sofa. She rose when Cecil entered, and smiled 
a welcome. Her five w eeks' residence in Lon- 
don had not changed her one whit, she was 
the same gentle, happy Lucy ; her dress was 
altered, not herself. The elegant silk dress and 
pretty white bonnet wore no resemblance to 
the plain merino and straw bonnet in which 
she had roamed the hills and woods round 
Forsted. 

" Deeply interested, fair demoiselle .?" Cecil 
said. 

" Not very, only rather amused ; but what a 
lovely day it is, so bright and sunny ! I have 
been wondering how home looks !" Lucy 
replied. 

" You have not forgotten ' home' then ?" 
said Erresford. 

" Forgotten home ! oh, Mr. Erresford !" re- 
plied Lucy, smiling at the possibility of such 
a thing. 

" I suppose you hear very frequently from 
Eorsted ?" Cecil asked. 

•' Papa writes to us in turn, generally twice 
a week, and then I correspond with Lady 
Flora. I hear from her constantly." 



LUCY AYLMER. 29 

"And what accounts does Flora give of 
herself?'' said Cecil. 

" She says she is very dull, and is longing 
for Easter to be over, that she may return to 
town." 

"Poor Mora !" sighed Erresford. 

"Lady Anne has finished her altar-carpet 
and pulpit cushion, and Lady Elora says they 
are so very handsome, but very like those in 
the Roman Cathohc churches abroad." 

" Where on earth does Anne intend to put 
that finery ?" exclaimed Cecil laughing. 

" In the church, I suppose," replied Lucy 
simply. 

" But will Robert allo^^n her to put it there ? 
That is the question," said Cecil. 

" Oh ! Robert is so very obliging !" replied 
Lucy. 

" People may sometimes carry their dis- 
position to be obliging too far," said Cecil 
thoughtfully. 

"Do you think then that Robert would be 
wrong in allowing Lady Anne's carpet to be 
put down ?" asked Lucy. 

" There is nothing wrong about it," repHed 
Cecil. " I only think it would be better if he 



30 LUCY AYLMER. 

did not. Though I own, if I were in Robert's 
place^ my gallantry would be sorely put 
to the trial in refusing the work of a lady's 
hands." 

" Poor Lady Anne !" said Lucy in a com- 
passionate tone : " Lady Flora tells me, she 
has become quite thin with fasting : she takes 
nothing but dry bread and fish, no wine, 
or anything that she is accustomed to? 
Do you not think this a pity, Mr. Erresford ?" 

" I do decidedly," replied Cecil, " a great 
pity, but Anne has a strong will of her own, 
and I cannot influence her. I wish I could." 

" So do I," replied the tender-hearted Lucy ; 
" it makes me sad t» think about her. Lady 
Flora says, she visits the very poorest people, 
and works so hard that they never see her 
till three or four o'clock, and then she comes 
in quite exhausted." Lucy was very com- 
municative, she could alwavs converse unre- 
servedly with Cecil : he w^as so frank, so open, 
and withal so kind, Lucy never feared him as 
she did other people. 

And Cecil liked to hear her talk in that 
simple, trusting way, that he met with 
in no one else. " Does Flora mention 



LUCY AYLMER. 31 

who have been staying at the Castle?" he 
asked. 

" No one, but Lord Glen do wan and a 
Mr. ]\lostyn, a clergyman who has preached 
three times at Forsted. Lady Flora says the 
people grumbled at his sermons, and Farmer 
Perkins went to Robert, and asked him to 
refuse his pulpit to Mr. Mostyn again." 

" Quarrels in Forsted already !" exclaimed 
Cecil in a disappointed tone. " I heard nothing 
of this before." 

Lucy coloured. '' Oh, not quarrels !" she 
replied, fearing she had said too much 
in her eagerness to talk of Forsted. " I am 
sure Robert would never allow quan-els." 

" Robert is so very peaceable, that people 
take advantage of him. I must go down to 
the Castle and fight his battles !" Cecil could 
not bear Lucy to look serious ; so he continued 
in a playful tone, " we should number a large 
majority to support our vicar." 

But Lucy still looked grave as she said, " I 
have been saying too much ; please Mr. Erres- 
ford, do not let Lady Flora think I talked 
scandal." 

" Oh ! fairest and best of scandal-mongers ! 



32 LUCY AYLMER. 

I shall respect the race henceforth if you are 
its representative," exclaimed Cecil laughing. 

Lucy blushed — "But you will not take 
any notice to Robert about Mr. Mostyn ?" 
she asked earnestly. 

"Do not alarm yourself, fair demoiselle. 
Robert has already mentioned Mr. Mostyn 
as a worthy individual, very clever — and 
I could add, but who fasts painfully and 
shaves the top of his head." 

Lucy laughed, then said, " why does he do 
so, I wonder ?" 

"I must refer you to Anne, I am not 
learned in such ecclesiastical matters." 

Miss Neville here entered the drawing-room 
and apologized for not coming in sooner ; but 
the music-master had been with Maude, and 
she always superintended the lessons herself. 

" We were wondering what had become 
of you. We have not seen you the whole 
of the week !" Augusta said this in a re- 
proachful tone. 

" I have many excuses to make," he replied : 
" press of Parliamentary business — and besides 
my steward required my presence at Hatch- 
worth, where I remained three days " 



LUCY AYLMER. 33 

" We missed you very much in the Park," 
said Augusta in a flattering tone. 

" Miss Neville has so many friends, she can 
scarcely miss one from their number," Cecil 
observed. 

" You surely do not class everybody 
one speaks to as friends," said Augusta, 
carefully placing her hands in the best 
point of view — letting them droop in a 
peculiarly effective way, often practised, but 
slightly difficult to accomplish successfully. 

" But surely, Miss Neville, few people have 
so many friends as yourself, even setting aside 
casual acquaintance ?" 

" Half the people you call my friends, care 
no more for me than the policeman passing 
on the other side of the street — acquaintances 
can be unlimited — but friends — only a few, 
a chosen few — whose tastes and ideas accord 
with our own. Some author tells us there is 
no name sweeter than that of friend !" — she 
said this is in her most brilHant manner, and 
then looked at Erresford. 

Cecil, however, happened to be contempla- 
ting a picture to him ever fresh and new, and 
that picture was Lucy. Politeness deterred 



34 LUCT AYLMER. 

her from continuing reading, but interest in 
the story impelled her to half open and turn 
over the leaves. She did not consequently 
observe Cecil's gaze, but it annoyed her Aunt, 
who said rather imperiously, " Lucy, do put 
down your book, and find Maude ; she cannot 
know Mr. Erresford is here." 

Lucy coloured at being discovered, occupied 
with her book at a wrong time ; and laying it 
aside, took up her bonnet and mantle, and 
went to seek Maude. Cecil held open the door 
and said, " I am quite curious to know what 
so much interests you." 

"A story, Mr. Erresford, which I fear 
you would despise as childish," said Lucy 
smiling. 

Miss Neville shrugged her shoulders and 
felt slightly jealous of her quiet little niece, 
and angry at Cecil's indifference to all her 
efforts at making him know how much she 
wished to number him among her chosen 
friends. Could it be that he resisted her 
charms, because Lucy had more attraction for 
him, simple Lucy ? Lupossible ! Augusta 
answered herself, nevertheless she thought — 
I will break asunder any silken chains that 



LUCY AYLMER. 35 

bind him to that child. I will tell him how 
entirely her heart is Robert Aylmer's. 

"We have constantly news of Torsted," 
Augusta began. 

" Yes ! your niece was telling me so ; she 
seems well versed in the local information." 

" She has it from the fountain head," 
replied Augusta. 

"I suppose the Squire is a capital infor- 
mant : he takes such an interest in the neigh- 
bourhood." 

"Oh ! it is ^Jr. Aylmer, w^ho is the principal 
correspondent. Lucy hears from him nearly 
every day." A slight stretch of imagination on 
Miss Neville's part, but n' import e, it was a 
matter of expediency ; and she leant back in 
her chair, and waited calmly for Cecil to 
change colour, or other mse evince his feelings 
on the important subject. To Augusta's 
surprise, however, he remained perfectly calm 
and only replied, "I suppose so." 

Ah ! she thought, the reason he so quietly 
takes it for granted, is their old brother and 
sisterly feeling ; but I will divest him of that 
idea ! "I have such a great feeling of pity 
for poor Mr, Aylmer," she said ; " indeed I 



36 LUCY AYLMER. 

cannot imagine how he solaces himself in 
Lucy's absence.*' 

" Nor I. Poor fellow ! he must be very 
dull," said Cecil. 

" That kind of intimacy in early years, 
generally becomes something deeper in the 
end," she continued. 

" What ! Has Mr. Aylmer mentioned 
anything of the sort ?" said Cecil ear- 
nestly. 

" Just what I fancied 1" thought Augusta. 
" Of course, Mr. Aylmer has not spoken to 
Lucy," she rephed. " She is too young yet ; 
she ought to wait at least a year." 

" And in that year, may it not be probable 
that she meets some one who will outshine 
our friend Aylmer in her eyes ?" asked Cecil, 
really for the sake of knowing how his friend's 
chance of success stood. 

Poor man ! thought Augusta. I do rather 
pity him ! " There is not the shghtest fear 
for Mr. Aylmer," she continued rather proud 
of her powers of discernment. " He is as secure 
of Lucy as though she were entirely his at 
this present moment. I know no one more 
constant and unchangeable than Lucy, and I 



LUCY AYLMER. 37 

am sure she loves him thorouglily : that en- 
dearing name of ' Httle wife/ was quite pro- 
phetic, though I dare say at the time Mr. 
Aylmer used it first, he meant it innocently 
enough." 

" Well, Aylmer and his little wife have 
my hearty blessing and best wishes," replied 
Cecil, in a tone so candid, that Augusta re- 
tracted her judgment, and thought he was not 
in love with little Lucy, after all when Lucy 
coming in with Maude, put an end to the 
conversation. 

Cecil Erresford was right. There were quar- 
rels commencing in Forsted, the worst of all 
parish quarrels, that between clergyman and 
people. Maude was right in those hastily 
uttered and quickly forgotten predictions, 
that the De Walden family would disturb the 
peace of their hitherto quiet little village. 
Five months had scarcely passed away, and lo ! 
the prediction was verified. 

Cecil had not left the Castle a fortnight, 
before the mischief began. Lady Anne des- 
patched a missive to the retired village of 
Ackington, where in a large old Ehzabethan 
house, a number of clergymen had formed a 



38 LUCY /VYLMER. 

sort of brotherhood : they walked with bowed 
heads, meek faces and shaven crowns. And 
they fasted and worked ; and kept vigils and 
slept upon hard couches, and denied them- 
selves every luxury, nay every comfort, and 
devoted themselves to a life of perpetual 
celibacy. Hubert Mostyn was the head, a 
kind of unacknowledged Abbot. Lady Anne 
had made his acquaintance in the Marchesa 
Elmo's saloons. An unaccountable medley 
of queer people she saw there ! However 
since the Lady Anne had taken up her re- 
sidence at Forsted, her noble head had been 
full of plans for the conversion of Robert to 
her own wild views ; and to that end, she had 
conversed and argued but with small success. 
Now the Castle was devoid of guests, what 
should prevent her from bringing to her aid, 
the talented and subtle champion of her cause, 
that cause which was to unite under one banner 
the churches throughout the world ? Hubert 
Mostyn obeyed her summons. The servants at 
Castle St. Agnes, stared when he arrived, 
stared at his odd figure, his humble demea- 
nour, and asked each other jokingly in the 
servants' hall, if this was the Lady Anne's 



LUCY AYLMER. 39 

confessor ? Yes, he was her confessor. In the 
quiet hour, when twilight clothed the library 
with mysterious shades. Lady Anne sat alone 
with the brother of St. Margaret's and 
unfolded her plans ; opened her heart ; told 
him of Robert's weak temperament, which 
could be moulded by any superior mind ; 
spoke of Cecirs influence, of Cecil's absence ; 
and gave into the hands of Hubert the 
conversion of St. Walburga's priest. No 
one only knowing Lady Anne in the drawing- 
room could have understood the fervour, the 
energy of her manner, or the reverent humi- 
lity with which she implored Hubert Mostyn's 
aid. 

Was the Lady Anne acting in a tragedy ? 
Her heart was real, her voice real, all was real, 
and she would have denied it altogether, but 
Lady Anne was acting in a tragedy, and she 
performed her part so well, that when the cur- 
tain fell, the end was fearful ! Mostyn pro- 
mised everything, his aid, his prayers. The 
twilight had darkened into night, the fire 
alone threw its flickering flame around the 
oak-wainscotted room ; the conference was 
over ; and when the Lady Anne rose to depart. 



40 LUCY AYLMER. 

a stealthy footfall broke on the stillness, but 
the Lady Anne was pre-occupied and heard 
it not, nor saw the dark-browed Italian enter 
her own room, and tell her beads, not humbly, 
but in triumph. And she triumphed yet 
again, when she heard how the brother Hu- 
bert in Walburga sounded forth, in melodious 
and wonderful words, a sermon which rivetted 
the attention of its hearers, a sermon in which 
Christ was cast aside, that the Church and the 
sacraments might be elevated, and good works, 
fasting and self-denial were spoken of as the 
means of bringing souls to Heaven. Agnese 
triumphed, but the farmers and those of the 
better classes who understood his meaning, 
for the first time in their lives, walked!moodily 
out of church ; and more moody were their 
looks, when the second Sunday, Robert read- 
ing prayers, the holy Hubert stood and knelt 
the service out, bending over the chancel rails, 
with his back to the whole congregation. 
The third Sunday, their Enghsh spirit was 
roused, when, on entering the church, Mostyn 
bowed low before the communion table. 
Several of the most influential members of the 
congregation waited on Robert and respect- 



LUCY AYLMER. 41 

fully informed him, that if Mr. Mostyn 
preached the following Sunday, one and all 
would walk from the church ! 

Robert wished to obhge his parishioners, 
but dared not disoblige Lady Anne ; dared 
not offend a brother clergyman, though in his 
heart he wished him back at St. Margaret's ; 
and the fourth Sunday in Lent, an occurrence 
unheard of before by the simple villagers, 
took place in the quiet church of Forsted. 
When Mostyn in a strange, monotonous drawl 
began, his face devoutly turned towards the 
wall, to repeat the opening words of the Com- 
munion service, pew doors gently opened, and 
the tall, stalwart forms of the Forsted farmers 
walked softly down the aisle, and were seen 
no more that day in St. Walburga. 

Poor Robert Aylmer was wretched, know- 
ing what he ought to do, and yet not doing it ; 
and so by indecision sowing the seeds of the 
first dissention in Forsted. 

Why did Robert listen to those counsels 
which eventually terminated so fatally to him- 
self? And why did Lady Anne come to Forsted 
to begin strifes which ended in a grave ! 

Robert was in the most awkward dilemma 



4i'Z LUCY AYLMER. 

he had ever known ; and without his trusty 
friend Cecil to help him out, he would have 
written to Cecil and laid the whole affair be- 
fore him, but that Robert feared his censure. 
Would not Cecil have told him it was more 
politic to offend one man, and that compara- 
tively a stranger, than to estrange from him 
the leading part of his parishioners ? 

The Squire who not having been in church 
since his daughters left, had consequently only 
heard, not witnessed the Sunday excitement, 
came to Robert to enquire into its truth ; and 
when he heard all the reports substantiated, 
he told Robert rather angrily, if he chose to 
have such a Popish fellow officiating in his 
church, he deserved to lose every one of his 
parishioners except Lady Anne, who was all 
of a piece with the wdiole mischief-making 
thing. And the Squire added, she w^oidd stick 
to her foolery to the last ! 

" I think you are unjust to me," said Ro- 
bert rather warmly. " If you were in my 
place — " 

'' If I w^ere in your place," interrupted the 
Squire, " I should make a better parson. I 
would stick to my own pulpit in spite of what 



IXCY AYLMER. 43 

any one wished, and then the people wonld 
stick to me. Lor ! I would have done any- 
thing sooner than let those fine fellows be 
driven out of their pews. It is a shame and a 
disgrace !" 

" Really, Sir, it is a pity you had not been 
in church to join your fine fellows !" exclaimed 
Robert, a little nettled. 

" You may depend I would, if I had been 
there. The idea of the fellow bowing to the 
Communion table in that way ! Why did you 
not tell him of it ?" 

" I think we had better change places, Sir ; 
you take my gown, and I your red coat, as 
you seem to understand so much of church 
matters,'' replied Robert, who, though dis- 
satisfied with himself, was angry with the 
Squire for interfering. 

"When is that reverend shaven crown 
going back to his monastery ?" asked the un- 
daunted Squire. 

" You had better put that question to him 
yourself, Sir, couched in precisely the same 
language as you put it to me," replied 
Robert, stirring the fire rather vehemently ; for 
what with the Squire's questionings and his 



44 LUCY AYLMER. 

own vexation, he felt anything but comfort- 
able. 

The Squire laughed, " Why, Bob," he ex- 
claimed, "what is the matter with you?" 

Robert was tumbling some coals into the 
grate, but he stopped as he replied, " You 
will own it is enough to annoy any man ; as if 
those farmers could not have remained quietly, 
instead of leaving the church in dudgeon, and 
creating such a disturbance ! Why could 
they not have borne patiently with Mostyn 
for a Sunday or two ? They know his 
views and mine differ as widely as the Poles. 
I told them so ; but as a guest at Castle 
St. Agnes, I could not turn him out of the 
church." 

"And what did they answer to that?" 
asked the Squire. 

" They commenced a pack of nonsense 
about supposing a Roman Catholic priest were 
staying at the Castle, was I to receive him? 
In short, they were dictatorial, and I felt if I 
gave w^ay then, I should be giving up my 
clerical authority ; and that I did not choose 
to do," replied Robert. 

" Tut !" exclaimed the Squire. " I tell you 



LICY AYLMER. 45 

what, Bob, my idea of clerical authority, as 
you please to call it, is not giving way to a 
woman ! Lady Anne rules the parish, not 
you ! 

" How ? I do not understand you." 

"It is easily enough explained. Her lady- 
ship is bent on making a set of papists of us 
all, and she cannot do it by herself, so she 
brings this monkish-looking fellow to help 
her ; and between them, they frighten you into 
obedience to anything they choose to dic- 
tate." 

" That is an idea of yours. Sir, and simply 
an idea, for I assure you, neither her ladyship 
nor Mr. Mostyn has ever dictated to me in 
any way. I tell you, I would not stand it if 
they did." 

"Well, it's no affair of mine after all," 
muttered the Squire getting up from his seat. 
" By Jove, I must be off. I have been here 
a terribly long time. T am going over to old 
Mildmay's : he has got a horse to sell, a stun- 
ner ! thorough-bred, but he asks a precious 
long sum. Take care of yourself, and don't 
get into any hotter water than you are already 
in !" The Squire shook hands heartily and 



46 LUCY AYLMER. 

was gone ; Robert watching liim from the 
gate. 

" I am in a pretty mess !" sohloquised 
Robert, as he took a turn or two down his 
garden. " If I deny Mostyn the pulpit, 
it seems as if I feared the farmers ; and if I 
allow Mostyn to go on Sunday after Sunday, 
it will appear as if his views and innovations 
were agreeable to me. I almost wish I 
were anything but a clergyman ! In these 
days it is no easy thing to keep the peace ; 
but surely if a man has a church, he may allow 
whom he likes to officiate in it, without opposi- 
tion from the laity ?" And with that thought 
Robert went in to his dinner ; then ordering 
his horse, he went a long ride, taking care to 
keep far away from Eorsted. It was not 
till dark that he returned to the parsonage, 
glad to have escaped a meeting with either of 
the contending parties. ' Contending parties ' 
in Worsted ! This was indeed something new. 
Maude would have said those are the fruits of 
bringing new people into the village. 

The next morning's post brought a letter 
for Robert ; a letter from Lucy, very delightful 
to him, in the midst of his unpleasant feelings. 



LUCY AYLMER. 47 

What did Lucy tell Robert that his face grew 
serious ? Was she lecturing the reverend 
young gentleman on his duty to church and 
state, and the necessity for keeping out 
questionable churchmen ? Let us read for 
ourselves. 

" Dear Robert, 
" There is a long Italian translation waiting 
for me, and I have yet to practise for my 
singing-master, but still I must find time to 
send you a short note. I was glad to learn 
from you all about the house, and how nicely 
it is getting on, and that the garden is not so 
much trampled upon as you fancied. But you 
do not know how grieved I am at some news 
of our dear old church. They tell me that 
quarrels have begun ,• that in the middle of 
the service several people left the church be- 
cause of the strange things that were done in 
it 1 Oh ! dear Robert, do prevent quarrels ! 
Do take care of our little church ! you can do 
it, it is your's, Mr. Erresford has given it you. 
I know that you A\dsh to be kind to every one, 
and how unhappy you must be to be obhged 
to take one side against the other — but, dear 



48 LUCY AYLMER. 

Robert, take the side of those that are right ; 
T know you will. Since I have been in Lon- 
don I have learnt so much that is new^, which 
I wish I had never heard — I mean all sorts 
of strange discussions about religion. Very 
young girls — even younger than I — talk about 
Puseyism. I scarcely know now what they 
mean, but at first I was so puzzled — and then 
I have been reading such strange books : they 
seem in the beginning very religious, but the 
characters in the books all quarrel about a 
church, I do not know what it is, but they 
call it Anglo- Catholic. It appears to me if 
people only kept to what the Bible tells them, 
no one need disagree. Dear Robert, let Wor- 
sted be a happy place, where every one loves 
each other, and let them look up to you as a 
peace-maker ! Auntie calls me, Maude's love 
and mind, 

" Your affectionate sister, 

" Lucy." 

What the farmers could not do, and Robert's 
own good sense could not do, the fair Lucy 
effected — she restored peace unto Forsted ! 

Robert pondered over her words — " take 



LUCY AYLMER. 49 

he side of those that are right" — and he felt 
hat his parishioners were right in their disap- 
proval of Mr. Mostyn's views ; and he at length 
resolved that he should preach no more in St. 
Walburga. Mostyn bore Robert's refusal of 
his offers of further assistance with the air of 
a martyr — and seeing that for the present he 
Was no longer of use to his dear brother, he 
took himself back to the twenty dear brethren 
to whom he was of use, and remained still and 
quiet, watching the signs of the Church ! 
Lady Anne was truly grieved, and told Ro- 
bert he was tlu*owing away from him holy 
counsel ; that such a friend as Hubert Mostyn 
was not often met with ; to this Robert 
made no reply. At length. Lent passed. The 
Manor House was finished ; the organ put up ; 
and on Easter Smiday, Lady Anne doffed her 
mourning, and appeared in a splendid toilette 
In the Squire's pew; for the building the 
new chancel was delayed till the Countess 
and her family left the Castle, as the church 
must be closed during the alterations. 

Lord Glendowan played the organ to the 
great satisfaction of the farmers, who so far 
from opposing, as Lady Anne predicted, 

VOL. II. D 



50 LUCY AYLMER. 

volunteered to pay for an organist. And 
so all things were again smooth, very smooth. 
The farmers doubled their Easter offerings 
as a recompense for their opposition on 
that memorable Sunday ; and Robert, de- 
lighted at their peaceful feelings, gave them 
a dinner at which the Squire was present. 
Lady Anne sighed, and wrote a letter to 
the holy Hubert, in which she mourned 
over the miserable worldliness and timidity 
of St. Walburga's. priest. And the holy 
Hubert wrote a consolatory reply, in which 
were these words : " Dear Lady, despair 
not; the very signs you deplore, are to me 
only so many beacons at which to light the 
torch of hope !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 51 



CHAPTER III. 

*'The world is full of fools; and sycophancy liveth on 

the foolish : 
So he groweth great and rich, that fawning, supple 

Parasite. 
Sometimes he boweth like a reed, cringing to the pom- 

pousness of pride, 
Sometimes he strutteth as a gallant, pampering the 

fickleness of vanity," 

PROVERBIAL PHILOSOPHY. 

Lady Flora was in London. Archer had 
seen her pale, sad face, as the carriage which 
had met them at the railway station stopped 
in Park Lane : Archer had learned from Lucy 
the time the Countess was expected, and 
had purposely taken a late ride in the Park, 
and timed his return, so as to see them 
arrive. He passed slowly, with earnest gaze. 

D 2 



^mERSITY OF 
II I iMnio . . 



52 LUCY AYLMER. 

No one noticed him, save the Lady Flora : she 
coloured and smiled, then turned away — and 
Archer was content. 

" Have patience," he said to himself, " and 
you will win !" and with this he rode home -, 
but he did not tell any one he had seen the 
Lady Flora, nor did Flora mention that she 
had seen Archer. 

" Tell me, Cecil," she said, some hours after, 
when conversing alone wdth her brother, 
" Is Lucy altered since she left her village 
home ?" 

"I do not think anything woidd ever 
change Lucy," Cecil replied; then he added, 
" her father came up yesterday." 

" Yes, I know, w^e saw him before he left. 
Have you heard if he consents to Maude and 
Lucy remaining long in town ?" 

" Yes, Mr. Neville dined with me to-day 
at the Club, and he was uncommonly com- 
municative. The good man's heart seemed full 
of his daughters : he said his Lucy sang like a 
nightingale; and as to Maude, he could not 
understand what she said, but her Italian 
sounded to him like that of a native !" 

Flora laughed. 



LUCY AYLMER. 53 

" Mr. Neville is so unsophisticated !" she 
observed. 

*' So much the better," replied Cecil, " I 
wish there were more Squire Nevilles in the 
world." 

" Well ! but what does he mean to do ?" 
asked his sister, with a little impatience. 

" He says, they shall certainly remain in 
town. Maude's heart is entirely set upon 
staging, and passive little Lucy is so delighted 
with her studies and her sister's happiness, 
that she is content to remain ; though I ques- 
tion if, in her heart, there are not secret un- 
expressed longings after Forsted." 

" Oh ! Forsted is dull enough now, I am 
sure," said Lady Flora. " You cannot possibly 
imagine how moped I have been the last two 
months, Cecil !" 

" Oh, fie !" exclaimed Cecil playfully, "you 
to talk about being moped with Lord Glen- 
dowan there 1" 

" You forget, Cecil, he was away the first 
three weeks," Flora replied, w4th an uncom- 
fortable smile. " I was wTctched enous-h 
then. You will allow Anne is no companion 
for me : she likes all those nasty, dirty, poor 



54 LUCY AYLMER. 

children down in the village, far better than 
she does me. In fact 1 am not holy enough !" 
Flora added, shrugging her shoulders. 

" Nonsense, Flora," said Cecil smiling. 

" You may call it nonsense, if you please ; 
but what is amusement to you in Anne, is 
anything but that to me. At the Castle, there 
was absolutely no one to speak to. Anne was 
out all day, and mamma was in her room 
with an influenza, and I wandered about like 
a ghost." 

"But you had Mostyn?" said Cecil 
archly. 

" Detestable creature !" exclaimed Flora. 
" Whenever I saw him coming down stairs, 
I did so wish he would fall over the balus- 
ters!" 

" My dear Flora !" said Cecil. 

" Well, he made Anne ten times worse 
than she was before. As to Mr. Aylmer, I 
despise him heartily ; he obeyed Mostyn like 
a child ! I know I pity Lucy." 

" Why so. Flora ?" 

" Because it is perfectly clear that he will 
marry Lucy some day ; and then a pretty life 
she will lead !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 55 

" You do not see things au couleur de 
rose to-night, Mora. Your journey has fatigued 
you." 

" No, it has not ; but my temper is growing 
dreadfully sour. I seem to find satisfaction in 
grumbling over everything !" 

" And what does Glendowan say ?" asked 
CecH. 

" Oh nothing ! he imagines I am perfection 
itself, of course," replied Flora. " I think, 
Cecil," she added, lowering her voice, " that 
I have discovered, when too late, that we have 
not one idea in common." 

Cecil gazed at her a moment in surprise. 
There was a distressed, unhappy expression 
resting on her face. " Can it be possible, dear 
Flora, that you care for some one else ?" he 
asked kindly. 

Lady Flora looked up hastily. '' Perhaps 
I care for Mr. Mostyn, or the Squire ?" she 
said with a forced laugh. ''No, no. Lord 
Glendowan is very good; only occasionally, 
Cecil, I cannot forget his age. Do not remem- 
ber what I have said ; I scarcely know myself 
sometimes." 

" I should be very grieved. Flora, if I 



56 LUCY AYLMER. 

thought you were unhappy in your engage- 
ment with Glendowan/' said Cecil anxiously. 

" But I am not," she replied impatiently ; 
" besides now I am in town again, I shall he 
contented with you, Cecil, and Lucy — there is 
always brightness wherever either of you 
is present !" she paused, then laying her 
hand lightly on his arm, she said, " I do so 
wish, Cecil, that Lucy could be your 
bride; there is so much goodness in both, 
that were you united, you would be like 
angels !" 

Cecil sighed. "Dear Mora, you are vi- 
sionary," he said, as he stooped down and 
kissed her. 

Flora twined her arm through his. " Cecil, 
you make every one so happy, you ought to 
have great happiness yourself. Could you not 
learn to love Lucy ?" 

" Learn ! oh Flora ! I should think it re- 
quired no teaching to love such a pure, angehc 
creature !" 

Flora was struck by his tone. " Then you do 
care for her, Cecil ?" she exclaimed. 

" Yes, I look on her as a dear and valued 
friend, or sister," and Cecil turned away. 



LUCY AYLMER. 57 

" A sister ! oh Cecil ! Why cannot yon lo^•e 
her more than a sister ? Lucy must love you ! 
Robert is a cypher — a nothing compared with 
you — there would be no chance for him, were 
you his rival !" 

" Hush, Flora !" exclaimed Cecil gravely. 
" I will be no man's rival. Robert and Lucy 
belong as much one to the other as though 
they were already united." 

"It is my turn to call you visionary,'' 
said his sister, " why, Cecil, they are not even 
engaged?" 

" Not by vow, but by love. I tell you. 
Flora, I step in between no one's happiness. 
However successful I might be — what would 
avail my former friendship, if I embittered the 
rest of Robert's life ?" 

" Oh, Cecil ! you are over good ! but take 
care that Anne and Mostyn do not, between 
them, make Robert embitter Lucy's !" 

" Flora, you are un sisterly to Anne," Cecil 
replied. 

" It was Anne who first taught me to be 
so." Flora walked away ; she was miserable, 
and she could not hide it — she had discovered 
in her solitude at the Castle that she loved 

n 3 



58 LUCY AYLMER. 

Archer, and yet she was the betrothed of 
Lord Glendowan ! But Cecil did not guess 
this, discerning though he was : everyone had 
become accustomed to Flora's moods, and no 
one much heeded them. The next morning, 
the Squire had taken Maude out for a ride 
hito the country, and Augusta had gone to 
keep an early engagement about a servant; 
and Lucy, not expecting visitors at so un- 
fashionable an hour, was arranging some 
flowers her father had brought her from 
Forsted, when the door opened, and Lady 
Flora was announced. Lucy nearly upset a 
vase in her joy, and darting forward, threw 
her arms round Lady Flora's neck, and said 
how glad she was to see her again. Lady 
Flora kissed her several times, then holding 
her back a little, said ; " I must look at you, 
darling, and see if you have grown." 

"Not much, I am afraid," laughed 
Lucy, 

" Yes, I really do think you are rather 
taller and stouter too ; and you have actually 
got a pink shade on those fair cheeks ! London 
suits you, darling ?" 

" Oh, yes ! and Brighton, dear Lady Flora ; 



LUCY AYLMER. 59 

it was so delightful ! There is such a beautiful 
sea, and we made such nice excursions while 
we were there I" 

Flora was still gazing at her ; "I think you 
intend to look hke a child always, Lucy, in 
spite of four flounces." 

" That is Aunt Augusta's taste," replied 
Lucy smiling. "Papa said we were grown 
such London ladies ; he scarcely knew us, he 
quite makes fun of us I assure you, and calls 
Maude, ' ma'am,' in play, of course. Oh ! 
Lady Flora, we were so glad to see dear papa 
again !" 

" We took good care of him in your 
absence : he has not pined away." 

" Oh, no ! ('.ear papa always looks well — 
and the house is finished. Papa says it is just 
the same, only cleaner." 

"Yes, exactly the same," replied Lady 
Flora, " and so vou remain in town ?" 

" Yes, for some time longer. Aunt Augusta 
intends to give a grand ball on Maude's birth- 
day, and to keep mine with it." 

" When will Maude be eighteen ? I forget, 
dear." 

" On the twenty-third of May, and ray 



60 LUCY AYLMER. 

birth-day comes on the twenty-ninth. Papa 
most likely will stay here till then ; or, at all 
events, if he has to go home before, he will 
return for Maude's ball — we all call it Maude's 
ball — Aunt has made a list of the company — 
two hundred people !" Lucy sighed, then 
laughing exclaimed, " I shall lose myself in 
such a crowd !" 

" Oh, no ! you will be one of the stars of 
the evening, Lucy. Miss Neville will dress 
you beautifully, I know, she has exquisite 
taste." 

" I shall try to get in a corner," said Lucy, 
" and watch the people, you and Maude, and 
those I love and care for most." 

" You will not have time for that : every one 
will want to dance with you," replied Lady 
Elora. 

A carriage at that moment stopped at the 
door. Flora started, and became paler than 
usual. 

" Oh, it is only Aunt Augusta come back !" 
said Lucy. " She went to Russell Square to get 
the character of a new maid." 

Only 'Aunt Augusta,' was it? The door 
opened, and Archer entered. He had returned 



LUCY AYLMER. 61 

early, imagining Lady Flora might visit Lucy 
that morning. He pretended, however, to 
look vastly surprised at seeing her ; and poor 
Flora compressed her lips, and tried to fancy 
that she was not looking paler, and then 
talked quickly and nervously about their 
journey the day before. 

" You had a cold, cheerless day," Archer 
replied, as he stood opposite the sofa, with his 
hat in his hand. " April ought to bring smiles, 
not such frowning \^dnter winds. I fear they 
do not suit you, Lady Flora. You do not 
look so blooming as when I had the pleasure 
of seeing you at the Castle." 

" The cold wdnds do not harm me," replied 
Flora, holding Lucy's hand tighter, "besides 
we ought not to complain ; until this week 
the weather has been very fine for the 
season" — she spoke very fast, and with 
her eyes bent down. 

" Have you got a holiday. Uncle ?" Lucy 
asked. 

" I wish I had," said Archer smiling. 
"I just looked in on my way to Grosvenor 
Place. I thought it possible your Aunt 
might have returned, and I wished to speak 



62 LUCY AYLMER. 

with her — but I am fortunate," he added 
addressing hhnself to Lady Flora, " in arriving 
at this moment." 

Flora looked up and smiled a timid, 
uncomfortable smile, and thought earnestly 
for something common -place on which to 
converse. " Have you heard how Sir 
Edgar Tyrrel is ?" she asked at length. 

" The last accounts were better," he 
replied in an indifferent tone. 

" Sir Edgar is Robert's Uncle ? Is he 
not?" Lucy asked. 

" Only his half -uncle," replied Archer, 
laying great stress on the word 'half.' 

" I think he lives in Grosvenor Place ; 
does he not ?" said Lady Flora. 

" Yes," replied Archer, " he does ; and 
that reminds me. Lady Flora, to make 
inquiries after Lady Damer.'* 

" Poor thing ! I am afraid slie will never 
recover : they are expected every day in 
town en route to Italy, where Lord Damer 
takes her as a last resource." Flora then 
rose and said she must go, as she had 
shopping to do that morning. She intended 
to ask Lucy to accompany her, but 



LUCY ATLMEK. 63 

she feared being left with Archer while 
Lucy dressed; so she departed alone, and 
Archer handed her into the carriage, and 
said, what good it did him to see the 
Lady Mora again — and Flora felt angry 
with herself and him, and envied Lucy's 
calm, gentle looks. WTiile Lady Flora was 
driving about from shop to shop. Lord 
Glendowan was walking to Grosvenor Place, 
and when there he rang at a door, and 
asked for Sir Edgar Tyrrel, and was forth- 
with ushered into a library, where an elderly 
gentleman reposed in a spacious elbow-chair, 
with a gouty foot carefully placed on a 
cushion. By his side sat an elderly 
lady, reading aloud the leading article of 
the 'Times.' They both appeared glad to 
see Lord Glendowan, Sir Edgar squeezing 
his hand rather more warmly than was 
totally agreeable. Lady Tyrrel vacated her 
seat next to her lord and master, in favour 
of her guest ; and turning a spaniel off a 
chaise longue, sat down in it, and taking 
up two lengthy knitting pins, commenced 
casting on stitches at a great rate vrith a 
determined, clicking noise. 



64 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Well, my Lord, I am mightily glad to see 
you," began Sir Edgar, in a somewhat fretful 
tone. '' I only wish I could rise to welcome 
you ; but you find me a sorry useless 

log!" 

" With better days coming !" replied Lord 
Glendowan cheerfully. 

"My best days are over now," rejoined 
the Baronet : '' sixty years do not pass over a 
man without leaving unmistakeable signs. I 
have been a good-looking man in my day, but 
that is past now." 

" Sir Edgar always takes a gloomy view 
of every thing," observed the Lady still 
clicking her needles. 

" May you never have the gout to 
make you gloomy, my dear," said Sir Edgar 
slowly. " And so, my Lord, you have come 
back to London again ; and how is my Lady 
Flora ?" 

"Thank you, very well." 

" And when does the marriage take place, 
— still unfixed ?" asked Sir Edgar. 

" We contemplate this summer," rephed 
Lord Glendowan. 

" The best time of year — could not be 



LUCY AYLMER. 



65 



better." Sir Edgar was very apt to become 
prosy. 

" I suppose you saw our nephew while you 
stayed at Castle St. Agnes !" said Lady 
Tyrrell, ceasing the monotonous music of her 
needles. 

" Yes, constantly," replied Lord Glen- 
do wan. 

"Well, tell us about him," interrupted 
Sir Edgar. " What sort of parson does he 
make?" 

" A very quiet, harmless one. He is one 
of those fellows that you cannot find 
fault with." 

"Slow and dawdling, eh? He was 
so as a lad, at Eton ;" said Sir Edgar. 

"He is certainly not clever or sharp," 
replied Lord Glendowan ; "but perhaps he 
is none the worse for that ; not so likely to 
run into harm." 

" I think he might look in now and then ; 
he knows he would be welcome," said the 
Baronet. 

Lord Glendowan rather questioned this ; 
though of course he did not express the 



66 LUCY AYLMER. 

thought, but only said, " Ayhner is so 
rarely in London." 

" I suppose not. It is a snug little living, 
is Forsted," continued Sir Edgar. " I conclude 
Robert keeps his horse, and that sort of 
thing ?" 

" Erresford has lent him one ; but out of 
two hundred and twenty pounds a year, you 
will own there is not much left for extra 
comforts." 

" What kind of views has he got ? New or 
old?" asked Sir Edgar. 

"He is very moderate," replied Lord 
Glendowan : " even you. Sir Edgar would not 
be offended." 

" My poor brother Harry ! I wish we 
were on better terms with his son." 

" We will invite him up," said Lady 
Tyrrell ; " what do you say. Sir Edgar ?" 

" Not a bad idea ! Sarah, I should like to 
see the lad ; though, I must confess he dis- 
appointed me at Eton. It was that Eton 
business that offended his father; and 
Robert has always been shy of us 



since." 



LUCY AYLMER. 67 

" It is the same with myself and Mildred," 
said Lady Tyrrell. " I often think of her, 
though she behaved shockingly in marrying 
against my wishes." 

" That reminds me," observed his Lordship 
anxious to put in a good word for the poor, 
portionless Aylmer, " a senior officer of Captain 
St. John, lately came home, and I met him 
accidentally in Scotland, a few weeks back. 
He speaks very highly of St. John and his 
wife. He mentioned them as the nicest 
couple he ever met, and the only people in 
the regiment who manage to live on their 
pay. Mrs. St. John is always happy and 
cheerful, in spite of hardships ; for they have 
three children, and very little to keep 
them on ; yet no complaint is ever heard." 

Lady Tyrrell looked at her lord. His will 
was yet unmade, and she thought he might 
put Mildred in a corner ; but Sir Edgar's 
only notice was ; "ah, my dear I she had 
better have remained with you, and married 
that young banker you planned for her !" 

" That is as she thinks. Sir Edgar. I own 
I was too hard on Mildred. I should be more 



G8 LUCY AYLMER. 

easy with her if I had my time to come over 
again." 

" Which you have not, Sarah," said Sir 
Edgar, moving his gouty foot with a httle 
groan. " I suppose Bob Aylmer has got 
some tender fancy," continued Sir Edgar, 
after a series of twinges. " All parsons turn 
that way directly they get sight of a 
living." 

" Aylmer seems to have some predilection 
for the youngest Miss Neville," replied Lord 
Glendowan. 

" Oh, that's it ! is it ?" exclaimed Sir Edgar, 
brightening up. " Little Miss Neville ! well, 
he could not do better ! The Nevilles are a 
good family. I like the Nevilles, her uncle is 
my god-son." 

" Who, Archer ?" asked his lordship. 

" And a capital fellow he is, very clever, 
quite made himself in his profession — we 
shall see him judge some day ! I mean to 
remember Archer handsomely in my will." 
Sir Edgar was very fond of his will, and 
liked to talk about it, though it existed only 
in idea. 



LUCY AYLMER. 69 

" I never can discover \yliat you admire so 
much in Archer Neville," observed Lady 
TjTrell, rather querulously. 

" That is a point, my lord," said Sir Edgar, 
" that Lady Tyrrell and I do not agree upon. 
I am afraid we never shall. Lady Tyrrell has a 
prejudice." 

" Which I fear I share," replied his lord- 
ship. 

" The fact is," continued Sir Edgar, ^yith- 
out noticing Lord Glendowan's observation, 
" Archer is too clever ; not a ladies' man 
enough. Never mind ; he makes money, and 
that is everything." 

Lady Tyrrell clicked her needles in a 
negative tone, as if she did not at all agree to 
this. 

The conversation then turned upon politics ; 
and presently Lord Glendowan took his leave. 
As he was being shown out, a brougham 
stopped before the door, and Archer Neville 
alighted — there were only passing greetings 
between the nobleman and himself, and then 
the favourite god-son entered Sir Edgar's 
library. 



70 LUCY AYLMER. 

"Always welcome, Archer/' was the 
baronet's exclamation ; " as long as I have a 
roof over my head, I shall be glad to see you 
under it." 

" You are very good, Sir Edgar, and I am 
delighted to see you down again !" a story on 
Archer's part, who hoped to have come to the 
making out of the long delayed will. 

Lady Tyrrell, who had given Archer a very 
stiff welcome, put down her knitting-needles, 
and set herself to listen attentively to the con- 
versation ; though she would not own it even 
to herself, she was afraid of Archer; and 
persons we fear we generally also dislike. 

" I have just had a visit from my Lord 
Glendowan, a nice good fellow, that !" said 
Sir Edgar ; " and a very pretty lady, too, T 
hear he is to marry, though I have never seen 
her." 

"Never seen Lady Elora!" exclaimed 
Archer. " How is that ?" 

" Oh ! pretty young ladies do not care 
for visiting useless old logs like me !" A " log" 
was Sir Edgar's favourite simile for him- 
self. 



LUCY AYLMER. 71 

" I am sure, Sir Edgar," said Lady Tyrrell, 
rather sharply, ''it is your own fault, if you 
have not seen Lady Mora. She called on us 
several times last Autumn-year in Paris, only 
you were always out, and you forgot that last 
season you were only in town a very short 
time." 

" So she did," muttered Sir Edgar. " We 
ought to know her. Let me see, Sarah, she will 
be related to us by-and-by — won't she ?" 
" Scarcely related," replied Lady Tyrrell. 
" Well, I don't know what you call it ; but 
Glendowan's sister married your nephew — so 
Glendow^an's wife must be related." 

''A distant connection, perhaps," observed 
Lady TyrreU. 

" Well, it is all the same thing," Sir Edgar 
answered ; " and so, talking of relationships, 
there is something of the kind coming about 
between your pretty little niece and my poor 
brother Harry's son, Rob. Aylmer." 

" Indeed !" said Archer, " this is the first I 
have heard of it." 

" That is strange ! Is it not, Sarah?" 
"Not exactly strange. Sir Edgar: young 



72 LUCY AYLMER. 

people often keep those things very quiet/' 
Lady Tyrrell replied. 

" Bob is meditating nothing clandestine, I 
hope. I would strike him for ever from my 
will, if he made a Gretna Green mess of it," 
growled Sir Edgar. 

" Not an unlikely thing, if it happened at 
all," said Archer, quietly. 

*' How — what do you mean ?" exclaimed 
Sir Edgar, starting. " Surely you can prevent 
that kind of thing — your niece is staying under 
your roof?" 

"My dear Sir," said Archer vnth great 
composure, " do not agitate yourself, it is 
highly injurious." 

" Oh, let me alone !" replied Sir Edgar, im- 
patiently, " and tell me what that boy is going 
to be about." 

"Nothing at present, I imagine, Lucy's 
regard for him is merely sisterly — they have 
been companions from their childhood." 

" You think that is all," said Sir Edgar, 
looking a little disappointed, " I thought I 
should have Hked to leave a nice remembrance 
for Mrs. Aylmer, if she had been that pretty 



LUCY AYLMER. 73 

little Miss Lucy your sister brought her 
here one day, and I was quite charmed with 
her." 

"I do not think Aylmer has a chance/' 
replied Archer. " I know Mr. Erresford 
admires Lucy extremely ; and my brother 
would be a great fool not to encourage 
such a good thing for his daughter." 

" Dear me ! as if the Aylmers were not 
just as good a family !" remarked Lady 
Tyrrel, in rather an offended tone. 

" In point of date they are certainly an 
older family," replied the politic Archer ; 
" but recollect, my dear Madam, that every 
father would naturally prefer a rich landed 
gentleman, to a poor country clergyman ; 
besides, clergymen make such dangerous 
husbands in these days." 

" How ! what are you talking about ?" 
exclaimed Sir Edgar. 

" I only reverted to the strange mania 
our clergy have just now, for becoming 
Roman CathoHc priests ; and in that case, 
what becomes of their wives ?" 

" Why, they put them into convents, 
the rogues !" exclaimed Sir Edgar. " But 

VOL. II. E 



74 LUCY AYLMER. 

surely Bob Aylmer is not inclined that 
way ! If I thought that — " 

" My dear Sir Edgar," interrupted Lady 
Tyrrol, " you heard what Lord Glen do wan 
said, and you know his opinion is always 
to be relied on." 

" What did Lord Glendowan say of our 
friend Aylmer ?" asked Archer, with one 
of those bland, courtly smiles that Lady 
Tyrrel hated more than frowns. 

" He says, Robert's views are perfectly 
sound, and that he is not likely to get 
into harm." 

"I am afraid the farmers of Forsted 
would tell a different story," said Archer. 
" Lord Glendowan is a most upright, 
truthful man, but likely to form wrong 
opinions on account of his good-nature, 
which leads him to think well of every 
one. 

" An excellent trait in his lordship's cha- 
racter, and one which other persons would 
do well to imitate !" observed Lady Tyrrel 
dryly. 

" Wait, Sarah ; I want Archer to tell 
me about the farmers of Forsted, what is 



LUCY AYLMER. 75 

that, eh ?" said Sir Edgar, in an impa- 
tient tone. 

" Nothing, perhaps, of any consequence/' 
he rephed ; " only they were shghtly of- 
fended by some Httle indiscretion on our 
friend Robert's part." 

" Go on, I want to hear — some fine 
new-fangled w^ays, I suppose !" 

" Something of the kind. The farmers 
took the alarm, and left the church in the 
middle of the service." 

" Serve him right," said Sir Edgar. " I 
will have no turn-coats in my will. I am 
a churchman of the old school; and papists 
shall not finger my gold !" 

" BM we must not be too hard on the 
young and ardent," said the crafty Archer. 

"He is old enough to know better, I 
am sure. I suppose old Forsted church is 
to be altered to suit his views, eh ?" asked 
Sir Edgar. 

" I beheve alterations are commenced, 
suggested by a brother clergyman from 
Ackington." 

" Not from St. Margaret's ?" exclaimed 
Sir Edgar. 

E 2 



76 LUCY ATLMER. 

" Yes ! there is a kind of brotherhood 
there ; and the head of them has been 
staying at Worsted, I beheve," rephed 
Archer. 

"That's Mostyn, Sarah, Hubert Mostyn ! 
Robert is dabbUng in that set is he — 
that is enough ! I have heard enough of 
them from Hubert's father, who is one of 
my oldest friends." 

" But surely — " began Archer. 

" No, say no more — say no more," in- 
terrupted Sir Edgar, putting out his hand. 
" I have heard enough — my gold shall not 
go to buy crosses and keep monasteries." 

Lady Tyrrel was going to speak, but 
Sir Edgar said, " Spare your words, Sarah, 
I will have no dealings with papists : you 
know me." 

Lady Tyrrel thought she ought to know 
him by that time, and that he was com- 
pletely governed by Archer. 

'' St. John has got his promotion," Sir 
Edgar resumed. 

" And is likely to do very well," re- 
plied Archer. 

" You are mistaken," said Lady Tyrrel, 



LUCY AYLMER. 77 

" poor Mildred has quite a struggle, and 
has three children to keep." 

" But St. John, my dear Lady Tyrrel, 
is so well connected," said Archer ; " his 
aunt, who married an Italian Marquis, is 
now a wddow with an immense property 
at command — St. John must have it all 
eventually." 

"Then they want for nothing," muttered 
Sir Edgar. 

Lady Tyrrel saw it was useless to 
interfere just then, so she was silent and 
let Archer have his own way. What 
was Archer's own way ? Why, an intri- 
guing, grasping one. Sir Edgar was his 
godfather, and Sir Edgar had promised to 
remember him handsomely in his will. Now 
on the morning when Archer had seen 
Lord Glendowan for the first time at the 
corner of Chancery Lane, Sir Edgar had 
been with him and mentioned this pro- 
mise — then a bold idea entered his head : 
why not some day obtain possession of 
all Sir Edgar's fortune ? A little tact, a 
little weU-timed prejudice against Robert 
Aylmer and the property might be his. 



78 LUCY AYLMER. 

though Robert was the nearest relation — it is 
true, Lady Tyrrel had nephews and nieces, 
but they were all hien plantes ; and it was 
a matter of small import to them where 
the fortune of their uncle went. But 
it was of great consideration to Archer, 
what should become of the accumulated 
wealth of his parsimonious godfather, who 
though in ill health, had yet his will 
unmade. Now the two ideas which floated 
ever uppermost in his heart, above a sea 
of minor wishes and plans, were the 
two for which he now lived — the winning 
the Lady Flora and Sir Edgar's Tyrrel's 
fortune. Both he deemed essential to him, 
both he would have — it signified little that 
Sir Edgar had promised to remember him 
largely in his will — it was not a portion, 
but all that his hand grasped after — all I 
Then, what should prevent him from pur- 
chasing a proud estate and living hke the 
highest noble of the land ? And the Lady 
Elora should be his bride — Avith all her 
wealth, her ancient name and rank ! Archer 
might then look down on the world, and 
live in the fulfilment of his high, proud 



LUCr AYLMER. 79 

schemes. Sir Edgar was an old man, 
broken in health. Archer possessed con- 
siderable influence over him; and the way 
into Sir Edgar's will seemed clear; but his 
other scheme was more daring, and conse- 
quently required more skill. He must throw 
himself frequently into the society of Lady 
Elora, yet appear to the world indifferent 
to her presence, while he secretly and by 
degrees told his love. Without this he could 
never win ; for were his admiration to be 
open, farewell to all his plans ! Mr. Neville, 
with neither rank nor power, would never 
be permitted by the proud Countess to 
supplant the high-born future son-in-law, 
upon whom she looked with such com- 
placency. 



80 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER IV. 

" I did hear you talk 
Far above singing ; after you were gone, 
I grew acquainted with my heart, and searched 
What stirred it so ! Alas ! I found it love." 

Lady Flora sat particularly thoughtful 
and abstracted one morning. The Countess 
spoke to her several times without receiving 
any answer ; and when at length her attention 
was aroused, she started and answered in a 
painfully confused manner. 

" My dear Mora, what makes you so 
distraite ?'' the Countess exclaimed impa- 
tiently. She was sitting opposite her daughter 
at a table in the library writing, while Flora 
was busying herself in refilling her envelope- 
box and card case. 



LUCY ATLMER. 81 

" Mamma, I did not intend to be so," she 
replied timidly. 

" I thought you had overcome those 
dreamy fits. Pray do not encourage them 
again, they are so absurd !" 

Flora answered, " Very well, mamma," in 
a submissive tone. 

"What could you have been thinking 
of?" the Countess continued laying down her 
pen. 

" Nothing, mamma," Flora said, while the 
colour rose indignantly to her cheeks. At 
the age of three-and-twenty, it seemed strange 
she must explain her thoughts. 

"It is nonsense. Flora, to say that nothing 
occupied your mind ; such a silly answer. 
You can have no idea how ridicidous it 
sounds I" 

Flora made no reply ; the Countess resumed 
her writing; Flora stooped over her enve- 
lopes, and a large scalding tear fell among 
them. 

" Glendowan rides with you this morning, 
does he not. Flora?" the Countess asked 
without looking up. 

E 3 



82 LUCY AYLMER. 

"No, mamma, not to-day. He will 
be entirely taken up with his sis- 
ter." 

" That reminds me, you ought to call on 
Lady Damer." 

" I intend, mamma, to go this after- 
noon." 

" The morning would be far less cere- 
monious," said the Countess. " Glendowan 
will think it more attentive." 

" But, mamma, Lucy Neville has promised 
to call for me to walk with her this mom- 

ing." 

" I like the Nevilles extremely," replied 
Lady De Walden, " but really, Flora, you 
should not be perpetually making engage- 
ments with them. It is provoking just now ; 
however, you can call after your walk on 
Lady Damer." 

" As you please, mamma," replied Flora, 
and another tear fell. 

This time it was not unnoticed by the 
Countess. "What are you crying for, 
child ?" she exclaimed ; " really, you tire my 
patience ! Is Lucy Neville so much to be pre- 



LUCY AYLMER. 83 

ferred to Lady Damer, that you must actually 
shed tears, because I wish you to shorten your 
walk with her, to give more time to Lord 
Glendowan's invalid sister?" 

" It was not that, mamma," replied 
Flora. 

" Then what was it ? my dear Flora. I do 
not want to dictate, but you do not evince 
sufficient feeling towards Lady Damer. Re- 
member, she is to be your sister." 

Flora shuddered shghtly. 

" Are you cold. Flora ?" asked the 
Countess. 

" No, mamma," replied Flora, who by this 
time longed to cry outright ; but she sup- 
pressed the longing, and her throat ached 
painfully. 

" My dear, there must be something the 
matter. If you look like this, I shall send for 
medical advice, It is quite wearing to see you 
so melancholy," 

" Mamma, I am not ill, indeed, mamma !" 
poor Lady Flora's voice was so imploring. 

" Very well, my dear, but do not agitate 
yourself ; really I am afraid to speak : every- 
thing disturbs you, even such a simple thing 



84 LUCY AYLMER. 

as my wishing you to make your visit to 
Lady Darner an hour earher !" 

Lady Flora sighed deeply. The Countess 
hated sighing ; and fearing another reprimand, 
Flora hurriedly left the room. When the 
door was closed, the Countess shrugging her 
shoulders, ejaculated, " Poor child ! what a 
temper !" 

If the Countess had only followed Flora to 
her room, she might have changed her opi- 
nion. It was something worse than temper ; it 
was real sorrow that rested on that young, 
pensive countenance, as Lady Flora rocked to 
and fro in a low, easy chair, only pausing ever 
and anon, to wipe away her fast falling tears. 
But she could not check them, and her grief 
each moment increased — " I can bear it no 
longer," she almost sobbed aloud. ''I am 
more miserable, more wretched, than any one 
in this world ! I know 1 am ! oh ! I wish I 
were dead !" She covered her face with her 
hands. " Two months more — then, oh cruel 
mother ! oh cruel sister ! When that time 
arrives, to what will you have driven me ?" 
Flora almost shrieked aloud. " Driven me to 
utter one great falsehood, one great deceit ! To 



LUCY AYLMER. 85 

love him for ever, till death part us ! It \^-ill 
be false ; I do not love hira. I cannot love 
him ! I never did — and now — oh, miserable 
me!" 

Again she rocked to and fro to endeavour to 
calm herself ; for Lucy would come, and Lucy 
must not see her in this grief. And as she 
calmed her sorrow, a voice from within 
seemed to ask her why she ever accepted 
Lord Glendowan ? He was then the same as 
he is now. " Flora,'' it said ; " he has not 
changed — 'tis you." But she answered herself, 
that it was compulsion that caused her to 
accept him : she took refuge in Lord Glen- 
dowan, from her mother's cold looks, and her 
sister's haughty words ! Flora was, indeed, 
very unhappy ; the month she had been in 
town had changed her. Though she had 
never really loved Lord Glendowan, she had 
respected him and found pleasure in his 
society. Now it was repulsive to her — his 
every little eccentricity was magnified ; his 
conversation wearied; his affection distressed 
her — and yet she bore it all with appparent 
composure ; bore it from necessity, for she 
dared not brave her stern mother's anger. 



86 LUCY AYLMER. 

should she reveal her real feelings ; and yet at 
times, when she thought of Lucy Neville, 
and her open, lovely truthfulness, she blushed 
at her own deceit. 

Why, when night after night, Lord Glen- 
dowan took her to concerts, where she would 
rather not have been, and claimed her atten- 
tion to music she did not care for; wearied 
her with his remarks, and made her ashamed 
by his conspicuously loud applause and per- 
petual beating time, which attracted the at- 
tention of all around ; why did she not 
honourably tell him, that she retracted her 
promise, and implore him to allow her to 
be once more free ; and then bear the an- 
ger of the Countess patiently and resignedly ? 
Her heart died within at the thought. A 
childhood of neglect — should it be followed 
by a youth of reproach and scorn ? She 
had not courage to bear it — had not cou- 
rage to stand quailing before her mother's 
cold glance, while she told how she had 
never loved Lord Glendowan ; but that 
now every pulse of her heart beat and 
vibrated with a new and intense emotion — 
hitherto unknown — a love for one, that 



LUCY AYLMER. 87 

motlieT's cold glance would tell her, might 
never win her ! 

Night after night they met. A few low 
whispered words, whose meaning she could 
scarce comprehend; a silent pressure of the 
hand; and that was all that had passed 
between the Lady Plora and Archer ; yet 
this sufficed. She trembled when he ap- 
proached, and when he was gone, her heart 
was drear and blank ; she felt life Avas not 
worth Hving for! She might scarce think 
of him, she might scarce look at him, for 
watchful, loving eyes were ever about her, 
watchful, yet trusting her imphcitly. In 
Glendowan's heart deceit never entered — it 
was true, open as the clear day; and so 
he dreamt of it not in others, least of all 
in her he so loved, that she seemed to him 
the soul of purity and goodness. 

The Lady Plora did not pray that she 
might resist temptation ; but she prayed that 
she might die soon ; the world was weary 
to her ! Then, just as this dreadful mur- 
mur passed her lips, some one knocked, 
twice, thrice, ere she heard it; then she 
started up. A glass stood before her, and 



88 LUCY AYLMER. 

it reflected to her view, her own troubled, 
tearful countenance. She hastily composed 
herself, then said, " Come in." 

Lady Flora thought it was her maid, 
but it was Lucy Neville who knocked, 
and she stood a moment on the threshold 
like a picture set in a frame. 

" Oh, Lucy, is it you? come in." Mora's 
voice partook of the nature of her thoughts 
— its tones were hollow and full of sup- 
pressed grief — and the fair young face was 
Kfted in looks of astonishment, blended 
with compassion : an angel on earth could 
scarce have worn an expression freer from 
earth's passions, and beaming with more 
exquisite love. 

" Dear Lady Flora, have I come too 
early ? The Countess sent me to find you," 

"You are always welcome, dear Lucy." 
Mora placed her in her own arm-chair. 
" Sit there, dearest child ; I will put my 
bonnet on directly , you have come to walk ?" 
Mora sighed deeply, and Lucy looked again 
wonderingly at her. 

" Dear Lady Flora, you would rather not 
walk to-day perhaps ; you look ill." 



LUCY AYLMER. 89 

" Yes, I shall like a walk ; I am tired out 
by late hours, and it will revive me." Flora 
tied her bonnet-strings in an impatient man- 
ner. " Lucy, dear," she said rather abruptly 
as she turned towards her and fixed on her 
a sad, troubled gaze, " Lucy, tell me, what 
is it makes you always so happy ?" 

It was a strange habit people had of en- 
quiring of that fair, innocent child, the cause 
of her unclouded happiness ! 

" Oh ! I cannot help being happy," Lucy 
replied, colouring at the sudden question, 
then after a pause, she added ; " every one 
is so kind, and this is such a beautiful world ! 
On these bright, sunny days, I feel so glad, I 
could sing for joy.'' 

" How different you are fi'om me !" said 
Flora sadly. "I was just thinking what a 
weary, troublesome world it was. A short 
life, full of heart-achings and tears, and then 
the world has passed from our sight !" 

A slightly puzzled look strayed a moment 
on Lucy's brow ; but it was soon gone, and 
then with a sweet smile she said : 

" Oh ! dear Lady Flora, this is a world to 
make us thankful 1 Look at the sky, so blue, so 



90 LUCY AYLMER. 

very lovely ! It might have been always dark 
and cloudy, and the sun might never have 
shone, but have been always hidden ! God 
might have made one continued winter ; no 
beautiful summer ; no flowers and green 
leaves !" Lucy paused and looked up appeal- 
ingly ; but Lady Flora gave no reply, and she 
went on in her childlike, simple way. " Even 
here, dear Lady Flora, even in London, there 
is something beautiful. There are no hills, no 
green meadows, but there are the waving, 
shady trees in the park, and we have the 
same sky everywhere, and we can look 
up and think of the Heaven that lies 
beyond, where the angels live." ' 

" All these thoughts come easily to you, 
Lucy, because you are so good," Replied 
Lady Flora. " I wish — oh, so ardently ! 
that I could be you just for one single 
day, to see the world as you see it, and 
think the thoughts that occupy your mind." 

" Oh ! Lady Flora, do not wish that ! 
for sometimes I have such discontented 
thoughts. I wish I could be at Forsted 
instead of here, and Avalk in the fields, and 
watch the sunset, instead of going out to 



LUCY AYLMER. 91 

parties and coming home tired ; and some- 
times I feel jealous of Maude because she 
is not always near me, as we were at home." 

" My sweet child, is that all ?" said Lady 
Flora, sadly. 

"I do not wish for worse thoughts, 
Lady Flora ; and they do not last long ; 
they pass away directly I begin to think 
who sends me everywhere, and plans my 
days for me, as well here as at Forsted. 
We must be happy if we remember that 
our Father in Heaven, who cares even for 
the sparrows, watches over us." 

Flora turned away. " If we are loved," 
she said, " it makes everything appear dif- 
ferent ; life is worthless, unless people love 
us." 

" But God loves us always, Lady Flora ; 
when everything else fails, that love is 
lasting." 

" Yes, for good people ;" murmured Flora. 

" There is love enough for every one," 
said Lucy, with a trusting beaming look. 

" No, not when we do wrong," observed 
Flora. 

" If we are sorry for it," said Lucy, gently. 



92 LUCY AYLMER. 

" If we are sorry and improve," replied 
Flora ; " but not if we go on in the same 
way again, and never do right." 

"I wish you would not think so," said 
Lucy. " Just try to think about God's love, and 
forget everything else. This will not seem a 
troublesome world then." 

The timid, quiet Lucy had made such a 
great effort in comforting her friend, that the 
tears actually stood in her eyes, though there 
were smiles on that, sweet face in spite of 
them. Mora Erresford rarely kissed her 
mother or sister — she dared not; but she 
threw her arms round Lucy's neck, and her 
lips pressed long and warmly that pure, fair 
brow. And there, in that quiet room, they 
promised to love each other as long as they 
lived. Flora was calmed ; the lovely holiness 
of Lucy ha I hushed her troubled thoughts : 
she did not wish now to die. They were 
both young, and death seemed so far off, 
as to be a mere old wife's fable. Flora tried 
hard the rest of that day to remember Lucy's 
gentle words, and to take Lucy as her 
example. It was no easy task to bear calmly 
with the Countess's dictatorial, impatient 



LUCY AYLMER. 93 

manner ; or when with Lady Darner to listen 
to her complaining, fretful conversation, or 
s\Tiipathise ^^ith a long list of imaginary mala- 
dies. Poor Lady Darner belonged to that 
class who are a plague to themselves and 
every one who comes near them ; the class 
of malades imaginaires. Her late illness in 
Scotland had been nothing very serious, but 
she insisted that she w^as dying, and terrified 
all around her. Lady Damer was a young 
woman, and only a few years Flora's senior ; 
but she had married a man twice her own 
age, and she told Lady Flora that day in con- 
fidence, that she never ceased to lament her 
mistaken alliance. " His Lordship is all 
amiability and kindness," Lady Damer said, 
" but he is no companion for me. The entire 
want of sympathy between us, has preyed 
upon my spirits, and made me wdiat I now 
am." Flora listened patiently, and tried not 
to think of Archer ; tried to think how differ- 
ent she would be from Lady Damer ; and how 
she would do her utmost to learn to love Lord 
Glendowan as she felt sure he deserved. 
Lord Glendowan's heart was gladdened that 
day : he wished, perhaps, that there had been 



94 * LUCY AYLMER. 

less of respect in Flora's manner, and more of 
real affection. But Mora was endeavouring 
to please him, and her efforts could not fail 
to be successful. It was the first time she 
had really tried ; and the novelty of subduing 
her own inclinations was occupation to her 
disturbed mind, and made her feel happier. 
But alas ! that evening, all her new formed 
plans were frustrated. A soiree was held at 
the house of Lady Howard, sister of the 
Countess. She was .a person of great talent, 
and assembled around her all who were distin- 
guished, not so much by rank as by kindred 
talents. She had promised Flora, whose 
sketches charmed her, that she should meet 
artists of note, and Flora's evening prospect 
was agreeable. Lord Glendowan would not 
accompany her. A previous engagement pre- 
vented him ; the Countess was unwell : Lady 
Anne from home, passing a few days with 
friends out of town. Cecil alone was her com- 
panion ; and for once Flora expected enjoy- 
ment. The rooms were crowded, the com- 
pany learned. Flora was not au fait in 
brilliant conversation ; the array of talent 
rather dismayed her ; and her eyes mechani- 



LUCY AYLMER. 95 

cally glanced around, to see, if perchance tliey 
might light on some familiar face. They 
lighted on a face very familiar, too much so 
for her peace of mind ! Archer Neville, his 
arms folded, his face composed and passion- 
less, conversed with the noble hostess. Lady 
Flora held a bouquet of lovely flowers, the gift 
of Lord Glenclowan. She hastily raised them 
to her face ; her hand shook, as she tried to still 
the beating of her heart — a moment, and the 
tremulous feeling was past, and Flora rejoiced 
in the thought that she had command over 
herself. She looked very pale but perfectly 
self-possessed, as she listened to the brilhant 
remarks on paintings, hght and shade, 
colouring and artistic effect — old masters and 
new — strange Pre-Raphaelites and glorious 
gems of by-gone painters whose names are for 
ever immortahzed, from a connoisseur like 
herself in love with the art which perpetuates 
and keeps alive, from century to century, 
memories of all countries and nations : mo- 
narchs, statesmen, palaces, monuments long 
since crumbling in the dust of ages. What 
made Flora start, raise her bouquet and stoop 
over it, apparently absorbed in its delicious 



90 LUCY AYLMER. 

fragrance ? Her enthusiastic artistic acquain- 
tance drew back to give place to Archer ! 
He shook hands with Lady Flora, and con- 
gratulated himself on the pleasure of meeting 
her, in a way that any one as well acquainted 
might have done. Then Archer, with great 
tact, apoligized for interrupting an interesting 
conversation, and learning the subject, joined 
in where it had broken oflF. Flora never 
knew before how well he understood painting, 
and wondered at his knowledge of the private 
galleries in London ; where Lord M — had 
the best Raffaelle — and Lady F — had given 
so much for a Vandyke, and the Marquis of 
G — had a Correggio which he had purchased 
from so and so — who, in his turn, had ob- 
tained it at some valuable sale. And so Flora 
found herself forgetting her trepidation in the 
fascination of Archer's brilliant conversation 
— ^her artistic acquaintance also seemed 
interested, for he stood a long time with 
them, but after a while he left them. 
Lady Flora and Archer stood confronting 
each other one moment silently ; the next 
Archer had offered her his arm, and invited 
her into Lady Howard's own boudoir to 



LUCY AYLMEK. 97 

see a master-piece of Paolo Veronese, he had 
purchased for her, and which had only been 
hung that morning. It was not mthout a 
misgiving that Flora suffered him to lead her 
away from the crowded rooms, through an 
antechamber. As he lifted a heavy curtain, 
a cool refreshing air came. He dropped the 
cmtain which hung before the door, and they 
were alone ; and standing before the life-like 
painting. Then Archer looked at Flora, a 
passionate, speaking look, as he exclaimed : 
'' Oh, blessed solitude ! that crowd, that din of 
voices, how hateful 1 feelings suppressed, 
words hushed — and here in solitude, one is 
free 1" 

Lady Flora glanced around the walls and 
tried to look as though she heard not ; and 
Archer again broke forth : " Yet, Lady Flora, 
even in the crowd, it is a refreshment to meet, 
a dehght, a joy. A half-hour near you, within 
sight of your smile, within sound of your 
voice — shall I tell you ? it is to my heart, a 
joy no words can express !" 

The face Flora bent down was colomiess ; 
the hand she mthdrew hastily from his arm 
trembled ; and the voice was scarcely audible, 

VOL. II. F 



98 LUCY AYLMER. 

but it said falteringly. " Hush, Mr. Neville ! 
oh, spare me ! I cannot, I Aiay not hear 
this !" 

" But say, Lady Plora, only tell me, were 
you free, would you then silence my heart's 
outpourmgs ?" 

" Mr. Neville, this is cruel ; you take advan- 
tage of me, because I am alone, because" — she 
added striving to put firmness in her tone — 
"because Lord Gleudowan is not with me." 

" Lady Flora, I am daring — T know it. I 
feel it, but I must be daring ; my life, my 
happiness, my all, depend upon you — you 
hold all in your hands — a smile, a hurried 
word cannot suffice me ; I want more than 
this. Oh ! Lady Flora, you are all to me that 
is worth living for, you are the centre — the 
one guiding star of my life 1" 

Lady Flora moved towards the entrance 
curtain. Her step faltered, Archer flew to her 
side — " Oh ! you cannot, you must not go. 
Grant me this moment — but one moment 
longer to plead my cause !" 

Flora paused and grasped a chair near her. 
" You can have nothing to say that I may 
hear," she almost whispered. " j\Ir. Neville, 



LUCY AYLMEU. 99 

such words are not for me. Grieve me not 
with more. I tell you, I must not listen I" 

" Oh, beloved Lady Flora !" he exclaimed, 
" I can, I must save you ! Will you throw 
your precious self on one you do not love ?" 

Flora interrupted him tremblingly. " Mr. 
Neville," she said, " this is presumption ! Do 
you insult me because I am alone ?" She 
walked quickly towards the curtain, lifted it 
hastily, and passing through the antechamber, 
mingled with the crowd, when a sudden 
murmur, a sudden movement, and there was 
a cry of " Make way — air !" And on Archer 
Ne^^e's guilty ear, fell the words : " A lady 
has fainted !" An hour after, as Archer left 
the crowd, and passed out into the street, he 
saw Cecil support into his carnage, the pale 
and drooping form of Lady Flora. 



P 2 



100 LUCY ATLMER. 



CHAPTER V. 

" Oh sieh mich an ! Sieli niclit weg, holder Engel !" 

SCHILLER. 

" Oh ! how I have desh-ed 
To tell thee all my heart ; on bended knee 
To plead my cause ! — my fate is in thy hands; 
And since thou hast such pity of my pam 
As thus to listen to me, may I hope 
Thou wilt be better still." 

Not a little surprised was the Countess 
to hear of Mora's sudden illness — Flora, who 
was never ailing, who never even complained 
of head-ache — to faint so suddenly — what 
could it mean ? Cecil thought it w^as 
easily accounted for; he told his mother, 
the heat of the rooms was stifling ; and 
instead of being surprised at Mora becom- 
ing unwell, his only wonder was, that more 



LUCY AYLMER. 101 

young ladies did not faint. He thought 
it was a shame to overcrowd rooms in such 
a manner ; and when he gave a reception, 
he would see himself to the ventilation ! 
Cecil's explanation satisfied the Countess : 
she could bear hot rooms with impunity, 
but she knew every one could not ; and 
when she heard from Flora that she had 
not quite lost consciousness, and that she 
• recovered quickly, she ceased questioning, 
and left poor Flora in peace. Flora wished 
Lord Glendowan would have done so, but 
when at mid- day she made her appearance 
with heavy eyes, and a pallor over her 
countenance, then began a series of atten- 
tions, kindly meant and trifling in them- 
selves, and yet Lady Flora was not in a 
mood to bear them patiently. Lord Glen- 
dowan insisted that her head ached, though 
she assured him to the contrary — insisted on 
piling cushions in her chair from all parts 
of the room ; placed her feet on a footstool 
and then established himself close by her 
side to fan her, and bathe her forehead 
with Eau-de-Cologne ; all the while up- 
braiding himself with having left her the 



102 LUCY AYLMER. 

previous evening ; and questioning lier over 
and over again as to her unfortunate 
fainting-fit. The season would soon pass, 
he said, and then he consoled her with 
a description of the quiet home awaiting 
her in the Highlands. She tried to appear 
interested, but could not succeed, when 
her heart was full of vexation, grief and misery. 
Again and again did her troubled thoughts 
recur to the scene in the boudoir. AVhat 
had she said ? Did she repel him sufficiently ? 
Had she maintained her dignity so fully, 
as to prevent all farther advances ? Yet 
why must she cast off Archer ? Was he not 
talented, admired, briUiant ? Did not her 
whole heart love him, as passionately as 
he had said he loved her? The reverie 
was painful; it vanished at the soft touch 
of Lord Glendowan, as he tenderly bathed 
her forehead with the dehcious perfume. 
She started and met his glance so full of 
affection and sympathy, that her heart 
smote her. Was she going to deceive this 
noble one by marrying him, when all her 
love was another's ! A Highlander below 
the window was singing in a pathetic 



LUCY ayl:meii. 103 

voice " Auld Robin Grey 1" She could ])ear 
it no longer. Her self-imposed fortitude gave 
way, and she wept passionate tears ; and 
when Lord Glendowan in distressed tones 
enquired wherefore, she could not tell, and 
added to deception, falsehood. She said, 
she wept because she was ill I — 

" Did you see Lady Flora in the Park 
to-day ?" Maude asked her Aunt that 
evening. For a wonder they were alone, a 
quiet family party. 

" I did not observe her," replied Miss 
Neville. 

" She looked like a ghost !" Maude con- 
tinued, " so white and ill — with great dark 
marks under her pretty soft eyes ! — I wonder 
what is the matter with her ?" 

" She has over-fatigued herself, I sup- 
pose !" Augusta replied in an indifferent 
tone. 

" And no wonder 1" said the Squire 
in a sleepy voice. "It is enough to do up 
a man, such a lot of dancing ! — I am sure 
Maude must have gone over miles of polka, 
last night !" 

Maude laughed. " But Lady Flora was 



104 LUCY AYLMER. 

only at a quiet soiree. Were the rooms 
very warm, Uncle Archer ?" 

"Very much so," he replied, without 
raising his eyes from the book he was 
reading, 

"I wish people would let in more air. 
I made Captain Rippon open a window 
by me last night. It was quite delightful 
to find a breeze playing over me !" said 
Maude. 

'Toolish child!" exclaimed her father. 
" I suppose you want a taste of rheu- 
matism. Well," he added, " I shall be glad 
when all this folly is at an end, and I have 
got you both safe home again." 

" You must not take us away, papa, till 
every party is over," said Maude, coaxingly ; 
" it would be so tantalizing to leave in the 
height of the gaiety. I do so delight in the 
dancing and the operas ; and then the fetes 
that are to come ! It will all be subject to 
think of for months after it is over !" 

"Tor years, I hope," said the Squire; 
*' what do you think, Lucy, little woman ?" 

" Hush, papa ! Lucy is asleep !" said 
Maude, lowering her voice a little as she 



LUCY AYLMER. 105 

looked lovingly at her sister, who was lying 
on the sofa and resting in Maude's arms. 

" I am not asleep, Maude, dear. I heard 
all you said." 

" You naughty, deceiving little thing ! to 
lie so still, with your eyes shut !" and Maude 
kissed her. 

"Lucy -bird, we want your opinion," said 
the Squire. " Wliich is the best — London or 
Forsted ?" 

" Oh, Forsted !" exclaimed Lucy, her fair 
face Hghting up. 

" Come along back then, little woman," 
said the Squire. 

Lucy kept tight hold of her sister's hand, 
as she replied, " not without Maiide, papa." 

" So you are all in love with the gaiety 
too ! Well, fine times !" exclaimed the 
Squire merrily. 

" Oh, papa, I do not care for the gaiety 
at all ! Indeed, I intended to ask Aunt 
Augusta to let me stay at home sometimes ; 
but I hke the singing lessons, and the 
concerts, and seeing Maude and Auntie 
dance." 

F 3 



106 LUCY AYLMER. 

'' What a little contents you, Lucy !" said 
Augusta, putting down her embroidery. 

" That is more than a little, Auntie," said 
Lucy ; " but may I remain at home some- 
times?" she added, proffering her intended 
request. 

" Certainly, dear, if you please, but you 
would be so dull alone." 

'' Oh, no, Auntie ! you do not go till very 
late, and then I am never dull; there is so 
much to think about now. The music, and 
visitors, and drives — and then I should be 
dreaming," she added, laughing, " long be- 
fore you return !" 

" I hope we shall be Lady Plora's biides- 
maids," exclaimed Maude, pushing back her 
hair, and looking at herself in an opposite 
mirror. 

" When is her Ladyship going to enter 
the holy estate ?" asked the Squire. 

" In July. Lady De AValden has fixed it 
somewhere about the eleventh ; but you never 
saw any one so unconcerned about it as Lady 
Flora. She has not even chosen her brides- 
maids, though the Countess has planned their 



LUCY AYLMER. 107 

dresses — all white, with no bonnets — some- 
thing lovely the wedding will be !" 

Archer shifted his reading lamp, and turned 
it down, though it was not flaming. 

" Oh ! darkness visible, uncle !" Maude ex- 
claimed. "I do so wish we had gas in the 
drawing-rooms . ' ' 

" Aunt Augusta studies the becoming," 
said the Squire, archly. 

" Of course she does !" said Augusta 
laughing. 

" Uncle Archer, you cannot be reading 
by that hght, it is all pretence," exclaimed 
Maude. " Do talk, and tell us what happened 
at Lady Howard's blue assembly ?" 

" How did Lady Plora look ?" asked Lucy, 
raising her head. 

" The same as usual, Lucy, I suppose," 
replied Archer ; " you know her dresses more 
intimately than I do." 

'' Uncle Archer does not admire Lady 
Flora," said Maude. " I must confess she is 
just a petit peu insipide." 

" Oh ! hush, Maude !" whispered Lucy, 
reproachfully. 

" Well, she is very kind to you, I know, 



108 LUCY AYLMER. 

and I like her well enough myself," said 
Maude ; " but there is nothing in her. She is 
just fit for an old man's wife — fancy twenty- 
seven years' difference between them — what 
an awful gulph !" 

Archer hastily kicked his foot against a 
stool, and asked Maude if she would like to 
play at chess, an uncommon piece of con- 
descension on his part. 

Maude was not at all in a mood for any- 
thing so sober as chess ; but she assented, be- 
cause she could not politely refuse. She might 
not have played, perhaps, with so good a 
grace, had she known her uncle wished to 
silence her. But Maude was an inveterate 
talker. While slowly placing her men, she 
rattled on : 

"What a comfort it is, the Countess and 
Lady Anne are not coming to our ball ! 
They are engaged three deep that night. 
Dinner with an Earl, tea with a Marquis, 
and supper with a Duke ! Is not that the 
order of things ?" 

" How dreadfully silly you are, Maude !" 
murmured Archer, impatiently. 

*' But really the Countess is so grand ! 



LUCY AYLMER. 109 

and as for Lady Anne, she seems to think 
it a condescension to live in the same world 
with poor unfortunates who have no titles !" 

" Come, Maude, do not make fun of every 
one," said her uncle. 

" It is truth," replied Maude, " and you 
do not know what hard work poor Lady 
Flora had to get off these same mighty folks 
in favour of us ; but her brother came to the 
rescue, just as her lady-mother was going to 
administer a little wholesome reproof. If I 
were Lady Flora, I should be tempted to 
rebel sometimes, for I never could stand 
being lectured." 

'' I would not be your mother for some- 
thing, Maude !" said her Aunt smiling. 

'' Oh ! no one is better than I, when I have 
my own way !" 

" I suppose that is the case ^nth us all," 
said Archer ; " come, Maude, when are you 
going to cease this gossip and begm ?" 

" At once. Uncle ; now play your best 
against a powerful adversary." 

" Saucy child !" exclaimed Augusta, who 
put down her work and devoted herself to 
watching the game. 



110 LUCY ATLMEU. 

"What did Robert say in the letter you 
received this morning ?" the Squire asked 
Lucy. 

" It was principally about the church, 
papa. Uobert says, they are getting on capi- 
tally with the new chancel, and will begin the 
Castle pew next week." 

" Where is the service done now, not in 
the church with aU that mess ?" asked the 
Squire. 

"No; Robert reads prayers in Farmer 
Perkins' great kitchen. He has lent it to 
Robert on Sunday, till the church is 
finished." 

" Any more news, Lucy-bird?" 

" Only that Robert expects Mr. Mostyn to 
stay a few days with him." 

" I am sorry for that," exclaimed the 
Squire. " Mostyn is a dangerous fellow !" 

" Lady Anne is desperately in love with 
him. I am so anxious to see the dear crea- 
ture 1" exclaimed Maude. 

"Mind your game, Missey," said the 
Squire. 

" Robert has written to Mr. Erresford," 
continued Lucy, "to ask if he may not have 



LUCY AYLMER. Ill 

the pews stained, the colour of oak, and var- 
nished : they have been so much damaged 
that they must be repainted ; and the church- 
wardens agree w*ith Robert that a dark 
colour will be more durable than white 
paint." 

"Go it!" exclaimed the Squire. "Why 
we shall not know the old church again, 
when we return." 

" Oh yes ! I hope so, papa," said Lucy 
gently. 

"Did I not tell you that everything 
would be turned upside down when Lady 
De Walden came?" observed Maude. "Oh 
Uncle Archer, what a lovely check !" 

" Well never mind," said the good-natured 
Squire, "if every one else changes, that 
is no reason we should." 

" Constant ever ! papa is going to take 
that as his motto !" exclaimed Maude. 

" And a very good one, is it not ?" asked 
the Squire. 

" I heard Lord Glendowan making a 
tirade on constancy the other day," con- 
tinued Maude. " Lady Flora looked so 
bored, and she said, it was impossible to 



112 LUCr AYLMER. 

remain constant always — circumstances often 
change us !" 

Archer's lips wore a smile of complacency. 
He would have talked to himself, had he been 
alone ; but as it was, he lost his queen, 
and Maude clapped her hands in triumph. 

'' Oh, Archer ! how intensely careless 1 So 
unlike you !" Augusta exclaimed. 

"It is my good play," Maude said laugh- 
ingly, " it is such fun to see Lord Glendowan 
play with Lady Flora, he will tell her 
everything beforehand, so there is no 
game." 

" Your head seems occupied with Lord 
Glendowan," said her Aunt. 

" He is a good old soul ; but I am glad 
he does not belong to me. He is so good- 
tempered and easy, one could not even have 
the satisfaction of qaarrelling with him. Fancy, 
he does not want Lady Flora to be married in 
a veil." 

" My dear Maude, why not ?" asked 
Augusta. 

" A whim, Auntie, I suppose ; but, of 
course, Lady Flora will not gratify him. I 
should think old men very tiresome." 



LUCY AYLMER. 113 

" Should you?" exclaimed tlie Squire. 

Maude lauo;hed. '' Oh ! you are not old, 
papa, so you need not pretend to be !" 

" How do you know, Missey," said her 
father, " whether I am old or not?" 

"Because you told me yourself, you were 
fourteen years older than Uncle Archer, so 
that does not make }ou very venerable." 

" And pray who enhghtened you about 
your Uncle's age ?" asked the Squire. 

" Uncle Archer did himself. He is rather 
proud of it, I think," said Maude, im- 
pertinently. " Thirty is such a nice age, 
as Lady Flora said the other day, when her 
friend. Miss Capel, married Sir Henry Melville. 
Check-mate, mon cher oncle ! What a clever 
creature I am !" Maude jumped up and made 
a pirouette round the room. 

Archer smiled. " I will have my revenge 
another night when you are less disposed for 
chattering. Augusta, I am going to the club 
for an hour." 

"Very well. Archer," replied his sister. 

" And my love to enquiring friends," 
laughed Maude. 



1J4 LUCY AYLMER. 

" I have a great mind to take you at your 
word, Maude," Archer said; then he closed 
the door, and went out into the starry night. 
The sky was clear overhead ; hut he did not 
look up at it. He only looked down into his 
own heart, and hstened to his own thoughts. 
What were they saying ? Something about 
success mingled with Lady Flora's words 
about thirty being a nice age, and circum- 
stances compclhng us to change ! Then 
Archer's thoughts said, it looked well; and 
again they murmured about chances of success, 
though they did not tell what success. I 
suppose that was a secret. 

The morning following, Archer went alone 
to see the Royal Academy. It had been open 
a fortnight ; and he had not yet visited it. 
So, catalogue in hand, he wandered through 
the rooms ; and catalogue in hand. Lady Plora 
wandered through the rooms. Lord Glendowan 
by her side. She looked sadly ill. Archer 
was sorry, very sorry, though it was himself 
who was the cause. Still his sorrow did not 
prevent him accosting her. Lady Flora thought 
the fates decreed their meeting. She made a 



LUCY AYLMER. 115 

few hurried remarks about the pamtings, but 
did not offer her hand : it was hnked fast to 
Lord Glendowan's arm. Archer observed this, 
and quickly passed on. They did not meet 
aorain till Maude's ball — the eveninoj of the 
twenty-third. 

What an evening that was for the young 
sisters ! How proud the Squire looked of his 
lovely daughters ! How Maude laughed, 
talked, and all but flirted ; and how Augusta 
flirted quite — and how painfully shy Lucy 
felt among such a crowd of strangers, 
without one feeling in common from their 
hearts to hers — that heart so exquisitely 
good, so exquisitely simple, it seemed to 
soar quite above this world ! How clever, 
yet how passionless looked Archer ! How 
cold, how passionless the Lady Flora, as late 
in the evening, arrayed in lovely white, Cecil 
led her up to the splendid hostess, dazzling in 
jewels like a queen. Could Cecil resist 
Augusta then? Yes, easily; and his eyes 
wandered to seek Lucy. It was refreshment 
to turn away from the gay, the vain, the 
frivolous, and talk awhile with the "small, 
pale child in white," as Augusta's friend, Mrs. 



116 LUCY AYLMER. 

Phipps, called Lucy. Who asked the Lady 
Flora to dance, and led her away triumphantly ? 
Yes, it was Archer — what of that ? Cecil 
could give her over safely to him ; he saw no 
harm in it ! He saw more in the foolish way 
Mrs. Phipps' brother, the Count, was con- 
versing with Maude. He imagined Lucy did 
not quite like it either : but, of course, she 
made no remark. But the fellow can mean 
nothing, Cecil thought. He is penniless himself, 
and would never marry a girl without a fortune. 
She is a beautiful, noble creature, that Maude 1 
and so inexpressibly dear to that angel, her 
sister ! Lucy's eyes were on Maude. Cecil's 
followed the same direction, and rested on her 
open, handsome face ; then a sudden feeling 
came within his heart, that prompted him to 
go forward and stand by her side. Did he 
want to protect her from the deceit and hoUow- 
ness of the w^orld ? Maude did not observe 
him. The Count was just telling her she was 
the belle of the evening. 

" Is that your highest compliment ?" Maude 
said in a half-laughing tone. 

The Count assured her he was serious. 
*' Mademoiselle is charming !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 117 

" Now," exclaimed Maude, " that is too 
bad !" and she drew up her Up and pretended 
to wear an offended look, though Cecil, who 
knew her well, noticed a mischievous sparkle 
in her eyes. 

" But Mademoiselle is charming — I would 
proclaim it in the presence of hundreds," 
persisted the Count. 

" Monsieur le Comte, you are not skilled 
in varying compliments," Maude said with a 
suppressed smile ; " you told my aunt only a 
few nights ago, that she was the most charm- 
ing of women. My memory is wonderful, you 
are going to say. I know it, so that will fail to 
be a compliment 1" Maude looked round and 
seeing Cecil, she laughed in a girlish, mis- 
chievous manner, as if slie thought her teasing 
successful. " Where is Lucy — what have you 
done Avith her?" she said, "I hope the poor 
little thing is enjoying herself." 

" Shall I take you to her?" Cecil 
asked. 

" Oh, do !" Maude replied, and appropriated 
his arm almost before he had offered it. 
" Adieu, Monsieur," she said, smiling over 
her shoulder at the Count ; " adieu ! Look up 



118 LUCY AYLMEU. 

your compliments ; vary them, change them, 
before we meet agam !" 

Cecil could not help laughing at her imper- 
tinence, though he felt shghtly angry with 
her. What Cecil had always admired in 
Mr. Neville's daughters, was their simphcity or 
freedom from worldliness ; and he felt jealous 
over Maude, lest she should lose it. Did he care 
then for Maude ? Yes ! because she was Lucy's 
sister ; and because Lucy cared for her so very, 
very much ! How brightly the gentle Lucy's 
eyes sparkled, and how sweet the tones of her 
soft, little voice, when Cecil brought Maude to 
her ! There was just the least perceptible shade 
of regret on Cecil's countenance as he looked 
at Lucy : he envied Robert, but still he did not 
try to supplant him. No, not by one word or 
look, and yet Robert and Lucy were not 
engaged ; no, but Cecil's mind was honour- 
able to a scruple. It woidd have been 
better if there had been more Cecils in 
Augusta's drawing-room, in those handsome 
rooms so full of brilliant light, where fairy 
forms flit to and fro, where music sounds, 
and mirthful tones fall on the ear. Music 
and voices faU heavily on Lucy's ear; she 



LUCY AYLMER. 119 

thought she was discontented, but the 
dehghts of Forsted, and not of ]\laude's ball, 
filled her mind. It was just twelve, the moon 
would be shining now over the old church 
tower, and the thatched roof parsonage ; all 
the Kghts would be out in the village, even 
at the " Barley- Mow," Avhere the landlord 
kept such late hours ; and the flowers would 
all have closed their sweet heads, and the 
glow-worm might be shining on the lawn at 
the Manor ; and the puppies might be barking 
at the shadows, the long white shadows, 
which she and Robert loved to look at — dear 
Robert ! Lucy did so wish he was there. 
Some one came and asked her to waltz, then 
looked disappointed, because it made her 
giddy ; and she was obliged to refuse, though 
she did it so kindly, that it was more like 
conferring a favour than denying one. Danc- 
ing fatigued Lucy too much to give her great 
pleasure, so she sat down in a corner, and 
looked at the others, her aimt waltzing with 
no end of a guardsman, and Maude with 
Cecil. Lucy was amused and smiled on 
Maude and Cecil, as they whirled round. 
Then suddenly something made her think of 



120 LUCY AYLMER. 

Lady Plora. Lucy rose and went to find 
her. Where could she be? Lucy had not 
seen her smce she came in. Had she not ? 
Ten minutes ago, she was dancing a qua- 
drille with Archer. Could Archer have said 
anything that made Flora suddenly turn 
pale, and give the wrong hand in the chaine 
Anglaise ? There are many things more 
improbable. When the quadrille was over, 
Archer promenaded Flora round one room 
into another, round that into the next, 
through the refreshment room — down five 
steps into the conservatory on the landing. 
What did he do that for? The most likely 
reason is, that he wished to speak with her 
alone. Let us hear what he says. No, what 
Lady Flora says, for she is speaking. It is a 
strange thing the Lady Flora tells him. 
He is persecuting her ! 

And in reply, Archer says, " Persecuting 
you ! oh, Lady Flora, am I so repulsive, 
that when I speak of love, you call it 
persecution ?" 

" But I tell you once more, I may not hear 
it," Flora rephes, and she clasps her hands 
and wishes in her heart, that Lord Glen- 



LlJCr AYLMER. 121 

do wan were by her side, instead of escorting 
his selfish sister to Paris ; and yet if Lord 
Glendowan were there, would she love 
him ? No ! then why should he be there ? 

Archer speaks again. "Dear Lady Flora, 
why may you not listen ? There is, there 
can be no obstacle. You do not love Lord 
Glendowan. Oh ! Lady Flora, you know it ; 
why deceive yourself and liim any longer?" 
Archer's love makes him very desperate. 
Lady Flora feels this, but she has not strength 
of mind to go ; she only says, " Mr. Neville, 
you cannot, you do not know my feelings 
towards him." 

" Not know your feelings ! when I have 
watched you day by day, and read in look 
and action, that you care not for him, nay, 
that he is even repugnant to you." 

"No, no, not repugnant," Flora faintly 
whispers. 

" Is there no hope for me, dearest Flora ? 
Must I drag on a wretched existence, and die 
of grief and misery ? — Yes, death would be 
hailed and welcomed, I would grasp it to 
my heart, the day that made you his !" 

" Oh, Mr. Neville, cease ! this is agony ! 

VOL. II. G 



122 LUCY AYLMER. 

Oh, why did you bring me here — why did I 
come ? — Take me back again, I cannot stay !" 

"A moment longer, just one moment — 
tell me. Lady Flora, is it fear that governs 
you ? Is your mother's anger so fearful — you 
dare not brave it?" 

" It is fearful !" Lady Plora trembles. 

"And is her heart so set on Lord Glen- 
dowan ? Oh, answer me this ! onlv this !" 

" It is ! now take me back. If you care for 
me, take me back !" ' 

Did Archer snatch her hand to his lips, 
and did the tears gather in her deep, hazel 
eyes? — It scarce seems so, for the clock 
strikes one, and Archer stands against a 
pedestal, his arms crossed, his eyes cold and 
calm ; oh ! so calm. And Lady Mora sits by 
Lucy with scarce a shade of colour on her 
cheek, and refuses to dance again that night. 
She tells Lucy she is weary — Lucy is weary 
too, but her mind is calm as a summer-lake, 
while Lady Flora's tosses to and fro like a 
troubled sea, and no rest comes to it ! — 



LUCY AYLMER. 123 



CHAPTER YI. 

Oh, recall the time 
When we were children ! how we played together ; 
How we grew up together ; how we plighted 
Our hearts unto each other, even in childhood ! 
Fullil thy promise, for the hour is come. 

SPANISH STUDENT. 

The moon did not sliine over St. AValbiirga 
and its parsonage ; but the sun shone brightly. 
It was six o'clock on a lovely morning early in 
June ; dew-drops bespangled the grass ; the 
air was redolent ^vith the exquisite perfume of 
new-mown hay, and the sound of the mowers 
sharpening their scythes, mingled with the 
milkmaids' blithe song, and the crowing of the 
cock in Farmer Perkins' yard. In the lane, 
outside the parsonage, a labouring man was 

G 2 



124 LUCY AYLMER. 

standing, looking up the road. Presently, he 
discerned a cloud of dust. Then down the 
hill came the royal mail, with three horses; 
and the leader was troublesome : the coach- 
man had some difficulty to keep him still while 
the coach halted hard by the gate of the 
parsonage. And out of the parsonage gate 
issued the parson, who clambered up the coach, 
the labouring man handing up a neat black 
portmanteau after him. Then on went the 
mail again, with its leader plunging and cur- 
vetting, and giving himself a great many airs 
all the way to Arminster. Then did the 
parson leave his elevated post most willingly ; 
for the sun was by this time staring him full 
in the face ; and he was pleased with the 
exchange to a first-class carriage in the long 
train bound for London. 

London — the sooner he arrived there the 
better, and the sooner he saw Lucy the better ! 
He had been parted from her three months, 
and he could bear the separation no longer. 
Lucy was seventeen now. Robert wondered 
if the Squire would consider that so very 
young — too young to be married! Robert 
thought if he wanted to know, he must 



LUCY AYLMER. 125 

ask. Then, if the Squire consented ! There 
could be no question about Lucy : she had 
been his " little wife" in play so long, that to 
be his " httle wife" in earnest would be the 
easiest transition possible. 

Happy Robert ! before four o'clock that 
afternoon he was sitting in the front drawing- 
room at Aunt Augusta's, and his " little 
wife" sat by his side. Not a word yet on 
the all-important subject, of course ; no, that 
must not be rushed at in a hurry, but be 
entered into coolly and with consideration. 
Robert intended to have a quiet inter\dew, 
first with the Squire, and then impart his 
success to Lucy. Robert had laid out his 
plans, and resolved to adhere to them, no 
doubt ; but he did not, after all ; and this was 
the reason. When he arrived at the house in 
]\Iay-Fair, every one was out but Lucy. The 
Squire had gone to a hunt in Epping Forest. 
Miss Neville and Maude were showing them- 
selves in the Park. Lucy had remained at 
home to keep an appointment with Lady Flora, 
who, just when Lucy was expecting her, sent 
word to say she was prevented coming ; and 
so it happened that Lucy was alone. And 



126 LUCY ATLMER. 

this being the case, when she had refreshed 
Robert with luncheon, they both thought, hke 
country folks as they were, how nice it would 
be to take a walk together ; it would seem 
like old times ! Lucy knew the way to Ken- 
sington Gardens ; and Lucy agreed to take 
Robert there. Lucy's little mantle and white 
bonnet were soon put on ; and then, her hand 
on Robert's arm, together they threaded the 
streets as happy as princes. No, far happier ! 
they were as bright and as happy as children — 
pure, uncontaminated children. Seventeen 
years in the world had shown Lucy none of 
its wickedness ; and twenty-eight years had 
taught Robert very little ; and what he saw, 
he speedily forgot. So they were very pleasant 
to look on, those two young companions — he 
with mild blue eyes, waving brown hair, and 
refined, quiet face ; and she with all her 
goodness hanging about and around her. An 
old mihtary man crossing one of the squares, 
and leaning heavily on his stick, for his race 
was nearly run, stood still and watched them 
out of sight, and smiled. They gave him a 
moment's great pleasure, for they reminded 
him of his youth, when a fair young girl had 



LUCY AYLMER. 127 

leant on his arm. A respectable looking 
woman with a bmidle also looked after them, 
and mm-mured, " God bless them both !" A 
poor, squalid child, offering flowers for sale, 
withered and faded by the heat, held his 
basket up to Lucy, and said : 
" Oh, Miss, you won't say no !" 
Lucy's purse was produced in a moment, 
and she dropped a bright shilling into his 
basket, and her gentle, soothing voice told him 
to keep his flowers, " poor little fellow !" 
That miserable child lived in a wretched court 
Lucy never dreamt of, when she rolled along 
in her aunt's carriage ; and she never dreamt 
either, that the poor flower-boy, who had been 
taught to pray by a good city missionary, 
prayed for her that night 'as " that angel 
lady." 

On went Robert and his fair charge, 
keeping the shady side of streets, and hurry- 
ing over crowded crossings. Lucy holding 
very tight the protecting arm, and after 
looking fearfully at the carriages, asked 
Robert when they were over, if she had 
not become very brave ! On went open 
carriages full of light parasols and smart 



128 LUCY AYLMER. 

bonnets. On went close carnages, carts, 
omnibuses, gentlemen on horseback, ladies 
on horseback, making for Rotten Row; 
and on went the countiy parson and the 
young girl, pleased with each other, with 
their walk, and the shady trees before 
them in Kensington Gardens. Being neither 
loose dogs nor footmen, they were suffered 
to pass in by the lodge ; and then going 
on the grass, they wandered on till they 
found a quiet seat beneath a great elm, and 
there they sat down and held a long, long 
talk, beginning in nothing and ending in 
something — something which made them 
both happier, happiest of all the gay throng 
within sight and sound, wheeling in crowds 
around the Park. Robert and Lucy first 
talked of Torsted ; of their early days, when 
Lucy used to listen to Robert's stories, while 
she sat on the grass and made daisy-chains 
to hang around her neck. They both agreed 
those were very happy days, and Robert did not 
see why the present should not be as happy ; 
there was only one thing wanting to him, 
and when Lucy asked what that was, Robert 
frankly told her, he wanted a companion in 



LUCY AYLMER. 129 

his solitary parsonage, he could bear to live 
alone no longer. A bright colour suddenly 
rushed to Lucy's face, and suffused her cheeks 
with crimson. She hastily shut her parasol, 
then opened it again, and felt angry with 
herself. Then she looked at her little watch, 
Lady Flora's birth day- gift, and told Robert 
it was six o'clock. Robert said the time had 
passed very quickly, he thought it was only 
five ; then he looked around, they were alone — 
no one within hearing — alone with the sum- 
mer sighing of the wind, and the buzz of 
the bee as he whirled past. 

" Lucy, little wife !" Robert murmured 
in a low endearing tone. Lucy looked up, 
but she did not speak, and Robert went on. 
" When you were a child, Lucy, this was 
only a term of endearment. May I dare to 
hope that one day, I may have a right to call 
you so ? — oh, dearest Lucy ! I have no parents, 
no one but a sister far away. If you refuse 
to hear me, I shall be very desolate, for I 
love no one in the world, as I love you 1" 

Lucy's little hand was gently placed in 
Robert's, and her soft voice told him he must 
not be desolate. 

G 3 



130 LUCY AYLMER. 

"There is no desolation near you, sweet 
one !" he said while a joyous light sparkled 
in his eyes. " Life will be one perpetual sun- 
light — when I know we can never be parted 
again !" 

" But, dear Robert, there is home — papa 
and Maude, think of them ;" she said in a gentle 
tone. " I belong to them, Robert ; will they 
part with me ?" 

" There will be no parting, sweet Lucy !" 
he replied, " your father and Maude will be 
always near." 

Lucy sighed, though she smiled as she 
said, " Oh, Robert, this is all so new, so unex- 
pected ! What will papa say ? he will not 
understand it." 

" Your father has been young once, and he 
loved his Lucy as I love mine. He will 
understand it all." 

Lucy looked trustingly at Robert, while 
she said, " Dear, dear papa, he is so good, so 
kind !" 

"He will deny nothing which is for our 
happiness, sweetest," Robert murmured, 
" and you can trust me, my Lucy, that I will 
love you, and take care of you now, as I did 



LUCY AYLMER. 131 

when you were the tiny child I loved as the 
heart's delight of my boyish days/' 

And Lucy replied in a low voice, "Yes, 
Robert, I can always trust you. " So that 
fair child gave away her love in simple confi- 
dence to her early play-fellow, and confided in 
him as implicitly as she would in a parent ; 
and it was an hom^ of intense happiness, when 
amid the bustle and turmoil of the sur- 
rounding world, Robert led the fair girl — 
dear to him always, but dearer now than she 
had ever been before, back to her London 
home. 

The Squire had hunted successfully, and 
returned home late in the evening, pleased 
with all around ; with Robert for coining to 
see him ; Avith Maude for her handsome 
looks and saucy words ; and with his Lucy 
because she was his heart's delight, and he 
was never better pleased, than when she was 
near him. She could not have been nearer then, 
for she sat close by the Squire's chair, with 
her hand nestled in his, quieter than even 
her usual quietude, listening to the history 
of his day's sport. It was a very warm 



132 LUCY AYLMER. 

night ; the windows were ail left open, 
though the blinds were down. Presently a 
German band began to play in the street 
below. The Squire got up and threw down 
some money — Lucy followed him to the 
window : she had had a secret on her mind for 
some hours, she could bear it no longer ; and 
she said in a low voice, 

" Papa ! I have something to tell you — Will 
you come with me?" 

Her father turned round to her, and asked, 
" What is it, little woman?" 

She took the Squire's hand in hers, and 
led him away into the conservatory. There 
was a green seat in it. She made her father sit 
there, while she placed herself by his side, 
her arm over his shoulder, her head on his 
bosom, her gentle face looking up at him. 
There was no fear in Lucy for her father — 
there were flowers all around and above them, 
those flowers had seemed to reproach Flora, 
but to Lucy they spoke of beauty and purity 
in her thoughts. 

The Squire stroked her soft, fair hair, and 
asked again, " What is it my little woman has 



LUCY AYLMER. ] 33 

to tell me? Something about Lady Flora's 
wedding. You are invited, is tliat it, my 

chnd r 

"Oh no papa, it is not about Lady 
Flora." 

" What then, my rosebud ?" 

" Papa, Robert and I took a long walk this 
afternoon, and Robert said a great deal more 
than he has ever said before. We have known 
each other so long ; and, dear papa, he wants 
you to spare me for him. Robert intended 
to say this to you, but I thought no one ought 
to tell you but myself." 

" My own sweet bird, what is it I hear ?" 
the Squire exclaimed ; " some one wants my 
Lucy, my best treasure. Oh 1 how can I spare 
her r and the Squire clasped in his arms his 
darling and treasured one. 

Lucy gently returned her father's fond 
caress. "It all rests with you, dear papa," 
she said, " Robert and I agreed that it did. 
We wish you to feel quite happy about it, as 
well as Maude." 

" And what does Maude say, my own Httle 
woman?" asked the Squire, looking at her 



134 LUCY AYLMER. 

as if his whole heart was wrapped up in his 
child. 

" Papa, I have told Maude nothing. It 
was difficult not to do so, but we agreed 
that you ought to be asked first, even before 
darling Maude knew." 

"And does my precious bird love Robert 
so very much? Could she be happy, very 
happy with him ?" 

Lucy replied in a clear voice, " yes, dear 
papa, and Robert says I have always been 
his little wife, and asks if you cannot spare 
me for him now. There will be ]\Iaude still 
with you ; and then, papa, I shall see you 
every day, and I shall love you just the 
same r^ 

" My child, my darling 1" the Squire 
meant to say more ; but Phil Neville who 
laughed away every care, actually shed tears, 
when asked to part with his Lucy ! that gen- 
tle thing who put her arms about his neck 
and wiped away the tears on his sunburnt 
cheek, and whispered softly : 

" Dear, dear papa ! you must not, indeed, 
do so. I will never go if it makes you un- 



LUCY AYLMER. 135 

happy ; you know how very much I love you, 
do I not, papa ?" 

" And don't I love you, darhng, so much, 
that what I live for is to see you happy. 
There now, little woman," and the Squire 
kissed her again and again, and brushed 
away his tears, " there now, httle woman, 
I will make you a present to him, such a 
present ! and I will come and take tea every 
day at the parsonage, and look at my own 
sweet birdie ; and she must not forget her 
old father, who wishes her a long and happy 
Hfe mth Robert !" 

Lucy rested peacefully in her father's arms. 
It had been an exciting day, and the quiet 
child felt agitated ; but she would not allow 
herself to cry, she only said : 

'*' Dear papa, you must let me teh Maude 
myself. Suppose you were to send her 
to me. I do not think I shall come back 
into the drawing-room any more to-night — 
you can say everything for me, papa, to the 
rest." 

Her father seemed as though he could 
not tear himself from her ; but he did at 
last, and sent Maude to her sister; and in 



136 LUCY AYLMER. 

their own room they both cried in each 
other's arms, and Maude murmured sob- 
bing : 

" Oh ! darhng, how can I Hve without 
you. You will take all the sunshine away 
when you go !" 

And Lucy recovering her wonted calmness, 
kissed her sister's cheek and said : 

"But, Maude, dear sister, 1 am not gone 
yet. I shall wait till you get accustomed to 
the thought of parting, and not till then 
must Robert fetch me." 

Lucy's thoughts were ever unselfish, even 
now, when she rested her weary head on her 
pillow, and reflected on the past day, she 
was more occupied with plans to reconcile 
her father and Maude to parting with her, 
than plans for herself. She only prayed ere 
she slept, that wherever she was, God's will 
might be done with her. 

And while Lucy tasted the calm, un- 
troubled sleep of peace. Lady Flora sat 
before a table, her hands stretched out on 
it, and her face resting there, her conscience 
loudly calling on her to resist temptation, 
and her will bidding her rush into it. She 



LUCY AYLMER. 137 

was in her own room, the door locked, and 
before her lay a crushed and tumbled note, 
with these few words traced on it : 

" Lady Flora, 
" I ask but one more meeting — and then, 
should you desire it, no word of love shall 
ever pass my lips again — grant me this one 
interview I beseech you. To-morrow at 
twelve, in the picture gallery of the Pan- 
theon. 'Tis the last boon I ask ! — oh ! deny 
it not to 

" Your wretched imploring 

" Archer." 

Flora, pale and miserable, asked herself 
again and again, why she ever cared for 
him, why did he care for her ? Why ! oh 
why ! had they ever met ? Oh ! that she were 
free ! oh, that her mother only loved her ! 

Archer was clever, of ancient family, moved 
in the highest circles, was universally well 
spoken of. 

" Oh, Archer ! why must I shun thee, when 
I love thee so much, so dearly, so entirely, 
that even — oh, dreadful thought! — when I 



138 LUCY AYLMER. 

am Lord Glendowan's bride — my heart will 
dwell with thee !" 

Flora's whole frame shook with agony ; and 
her conscience w^ent on loudly bidding 
her resist temptation throughout that long, 
sleepless night, that dreadful night 1 No 
effort could bring calmness or composure; 
sometimes she resolved to grant Archer the 
meeting ; then again she dared not trust 
herself to see him ; then she longed to unbur- 
den her heart's troubles and seek counsel and 
advice — from whom — the answer was a 
blank, a dreary void. A mother who did not 
love her, a sister with a heart devoid of sym- 
pathy ! There was one who would have 
listened to her tale kindly, and with no word 
of reproach, who would have advised for her 
happiness and helped her through her per- 
plexities ; but Mora shunned him. She would 
not make Cecil the sharer of her troubles ; 
she would bear them alone, and meet Archer 
just this once, and then, farewell to life's 
joys and happiness ! 

Punctual to his time, Archer paced the 
picture gallery of the Pantheon in the full 
confidence of success — the success of a 



LUCY AYLMER. 139 

strong mind over a wavering one. He had 
studied Lady Flora's character — its changeful 
nature, its weakness. A few stray arguments, 
a little desperation in his love, and he should 
conquer, if not yet, ere long. The clock was 
striking twelve. With slow and faltering step. 
Flora ascended the stairs plainly dressed, and 
a thick lace veil almost concealing her pallid 
face. She glanced around the room, as she 
entered ; and, among a few straggling visitors. 
Archer stood, his eyes on the entrance. In 
one moment he was with her, seated by her 
side in that forlorn-looking room. 

" Lady Flora, this is kind," he said. " I 
feared lest I had been too presumptuous in 
asking this meeting." 

" Our last !" Flora murmured. 

" Our last ? Oh ! Lady Flora, can it be 
that I must cease to look on you — cease to 
listen to those tones that send joy to my 
heart. Beloved Lady Flora, you cannot be so 
cruel !" 

"Upbraid me not, Mr. Neville," she mur- 
mured. " My fate is hard ; but I must 
submit to it, even though it crush me, and 



140 LUCY AYLMER. 

break my heart. But, oh ! upbraid me not ; 
for I can bear anything but that." 

"Does the Lady Flora, then, care for my 
reproaches? Can it be," he asked m an 
impassioned tone, " that her heart responded 
to the love in mine ?" 

" Oh ! Mr. Neville, what have I said !" she 
exclaimed, in a tone of bitter wretchedness. 
" I granted this meeting not for words like 
these, but that you may — " 

" That I may adore you more and more 
each time we meet," he replied. " Lady 
Flora, think once more ere you take those vows 
from which nought but death can free you. 
Tell me, I pray you, is he dear to you as 
husband should be ? Can you be happy ? If 
so, though there is an end of all worth living 
for on earth, yet I feel I can patiently abide 
my doom." 

" Oh ! what shall I do ?" Flora murmured, 
while she scarce breathed. " Generous, noble 
Archer, must I cast you off?" her thoughts 
said. She could not speak ; and Archer 
continued : 

" You cannot answer me. Oh ! Lady Flora, 



LUCY AYLMER. 141 

best and dearest ! I cannot give you up to 
misery and wretchedness. Fly with me, and 
be all my own. I would gladly renounce 
home, fame — everything. Your relations love 
you not. Then why should their will influence 

Hastily Plora rose, then sank trembhngly 
back again. Her voice was scarcely audible 
as she said : 

" Mr. Neville, I came not to hear such words. 
We must part ; you must forget me — forget 
that the miserable Flora ever crossed your 
path, and clouded for one moment your 
happiness. Go on ; reach fame, honour, 
renown — forsake them not ; and when, in my 
lonely home, I hear your praise, perchance a 
smile may light up my clouded brow. Fare- 
well, Archer, farewell for ever !" 

She rose, extended her hand ; and while he 
stood lost in amazement, she passed away 
swiftly down the stairs, and, sinking back 
in her carriage, was quickly driven home. 

The day passed, another and yet a third, 
and no tidings fell on Archer's ear of the 
Lady Flora. It is much to be questioned if 
he had any conscience, for he felt none of its 



142 LUCY ATLMER. 

upbraidings, but there was an anxiety in his 
mind ; for though his love was selfish, yet it 
was intense; and he was impatient at her 
absence, and hated the numberless engage- 
ments which prevented his sister and nieces 
from calling at Park Lane. 

It was Saturday evening, and at the hour 
of dinner. The Countess's empty carriage 
stopped before Archer's door, a note was 
given in, and the coachman waited — for 
whom ? — for Lucy ! The note was addressed 
to her, it said : Lady Flora was ill and longed 
for her — it was no question to Lucy that 
Robert was there — she hastily checked any 
thought of annoyance that might have crossed 
her gentle spirit ; and as Robert was handing 
her into the carriage, she said softly, " You 
must help me, dear Robert, to pray for poor 
Lady Flora !" Little Lucy was so sorry, so 
very sorry for her friend, and still more so 
when she entered her darkened room and saw 
her lying exhausted on her pillows. The 
Countess, looking even more haughty than 
usual, sat by Flora's bed-side, a book in her 
hand. She was not reading, but communing 
with her proud, worldly thoughts, while the 



LUCY AYLMER. 143 

tears rolled down Plora's fevered cheeks, and 
her clasped hands moved in agony to and fro 
on the coverlid. When softly and scarce 
audibly, Lucy was ushered in by Lady Mora's 
maid, the Countess rose, stooped and kissed 
her cheek. " It is very kind of you to come, 
Lucy," she said, " can you remain the rest of 
the evening ?" 

" Oh yes ! and the next day too, if she could 
be of any use, and poor dear Lady Llora, was 
she so very ill?" The Countess pushed aside 
the curtain, and Lucy was clasped in Flora's 
arms. The Countess stood a moment, then 
sighed and left the room. Why did not 
Flora love her as she did Lucy ? The Coun- 
tess should have remained in that sick room, 
and she might have leanied a lesson from 
Lucy how to love and gain love. "What ! the 
Countess De Walden learn of little Lucy 
Neville ? No, never ! 

Scarcely had the door closed on the 
Countess, when Flora burst forth in bitter 
tones. " Lucy, my angel child, why did you 
come to me ? 'tis but to hear of misery, such 
as you never heard before ! Lucy," and Flora 



144 LUCY AYLMER. 

looked almost wildly around. " Lucy, it is 
done. I have cast him off ; and I have no 
one now in the wide world to love me — but 
you !" 

Lucy was terrified. Was Flora delirious ? 
she tried to soothe her. " Dearest Lady 
Flora," she began, but hastily Flora checked 
her. 

" Forget my rank, Lucy ; if you love me 
call me Flora ; my rank is only a barrier 
between me and happiness ! Oh ! I wish I 
were a governess or a needlewoman — any- 
thing but what I am !" 

"Dear Flora, you must not say so; you 
are so agitated, try and compose yourself, and 
you will get better." 

" I shall never be better, as long as I live. 
I shall always be what I now am, broken- 
down and wretched : it is mental suffering 
not bodily, that has brought me here.'' 

" Dearest Flora, it will pass away. The 
sun is ever shining, only we cannot always 
see it, because of these clouds ; so there is 
ever more happiness in store for us, even be- 
hind great troubles ; oh ! I am sure there is !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 145 

'' Not for me, Lucy ; there is no sunshine 
for me : my mother will keep that away. Oh, 
Lucy, I do think she hates me !" 

" You must not think so, darhng Mora ; 
some people are not affectionate even towards 
those they love/' 

"Lucy, you did not see her, you who 
have such a father, such a sister 1 How can 
you know what such natures as my mother's 
are ? — Oh, Lucy ! it was on Wednesday 
afternoon, I wrote to him a long, long letter, 
humble and penitent enough. I studied every 
word and cried over it too, how bitterly ! — 
Then I took it to her, and gave it into her 
hands ; told her I had never loved Lord 
Glendowan, could never love him, would 
never deceive him by giving him such a 
heart as mine — and then — oh, Lucy ! how^ 
her eyes flashed, and how white her lips, 
as she tore it in a thousand pieces before my 
eyes ! — Lord Glendow^an is in Rome. His 
sister took him thither. In three weeks he 
retiu-ns, but I wiU not be his wife, no, 
though I refuse him at the altar !" 

"That can never happen, dear Flora," 

VOL. II. H 



146 LUCY AYLMER. 

replied Lucy, scarce knowing what she 
said, so startled was she at what she had 
heard. 

"No, no, it shall not be. I cannot meet 
him, Lucy. Will you take me home with 
you to the quiet country ; this London, it 
kills me !" 

" You have been so wearied, poor dear," 
said Lucy soothingly. She scarcely knew 
what to do, she wondered if Lady Flora 
were in earnest, or if her mind wan- 
dered. 

" Harassed and wearied," murmured 
Flora, " and there is no rest for me ! — 
Lucy, those words seem to haunt me — 
' Seekest thou rest, O mortal ? Seek it 
no more on earth. For destiny will not 
cease from dragging thee through the 
rough wilderness of life.' Lucy, w^hen we 
read them together, what did you tell me ? I 
forget." 

" I told you," Lucy said in a gentle voice, 
" that those words were not true. There 
is rest every where for those who love God, 
even if it is stormy on earth ; and in heaven, 



LUCY AYLMER. 147 

there is everlasting rest, when earth's Hfe is 
ended." 

" But, Lucy, I am not fit to die, not half 
good enough. If I were only like you, I 
should long for death ?" , 

" You would not, darling Mora ; unless it 
were God's will, you ought to be glad 
to live upon earth to do what He pleases." 

" I do anything good ! — Oh Lucy ! you do 
not know me. I could not tell you half the 
bad things in my heart; they would ter- 
rify you." 

" Do not think about them, dear Flora ; shall 
I read to you ?" 

" No, no, talk to me. You are better than 
ten thousand books." 

'• But, dear Mora, the Bible," whispered 
Lucy. 

Mora closed her eyes, and seemed inclined 
to sleep. Lucy looked around the room, and 
her sweet face grew grave : there was no 
Bible there — no printed Bible ; but in Lucy's 
own heart were laid up stores of holy learning, 
and as she bent over Mora's pillow, she 
repeated to the child of rank, as she had to 
many a child of poverty, a Psalm of beauty 

H 2 



148 LUCY AYLMER. 

and comfort. Tears flowed from beneath 
Flora's closed eyelids : they were not tears of 
passion, for after the storm came a calm, 
and Lucy's young voice soothed that troubled 
spirit to rest. 



LUCY AYL5IER. 149 



CHAPTER VII. 

! werden wir auch jemals gliicklich werden ! 
Sind wir's denn nicht ? Bist da nicht mein ? Bin ich 
nicht deiii ? 

PICCOLOMDfl, SCHILLER. 

It was the eleventh of July, the day fixed 
for Flora's wedding ; but no bridal arrange- 
ments were to be seen in Park Lane. The 
house looked dull and gloomy in a fast-falling 
shower. A brougham stood at the door with 
two chesnut horses ; and the servants wore 
their overcoats. There was nothing bridal 
about their appearance. Presently Lady 
Flora stepped into the carriage under the 
shelter of an umbrella, wearing a coloured 
muslin dress and black mantle, and a blue 



J 50 LUCY AYLMER. 

veil over her simple straw bonnet, which was 
anything but bride-like. So her wedding 
could not be coming off that day. 

Lady Flora had been very ill for some 
days ; but, with such a gentle, loving nurse 
as Lucy, she quickly rallied ; and Lucy's 
quiet example and sweet words greatly calmed 
her, and for the time seemed to have a bene- 
ficial influence. But what Lucy effected 
the Countess had quickly undone. All the 
feelings of discontent and anger that had ever 
dwelt in Flora's breast, were called forth, when, 
on her recovery, still persisting in her resolve 
of breaking her engagement with Lord Glen- 
dowan, she met with reproaches, harsh words 
and stern looks from both the Countess and 
Lady Anne. 

At length, Flora was driven to desperation. 
Of her own accord, she appointed an interview 
with Archer Neville, secret, like the former. 
This brought forth a second and a third. To- 
day Lady Flora was going to keep a last 
lover's meeting. What wonder that she 
looked fearfully agitated, and bent forward to 
the carriage window for air, though the 
weather was rather cool. She had told her 



LUCr AYLMER. 151 

mother she was going to see her old and 
faithful nurse, the only friend of her early 
childhood, who lived within a few miles of 
Epping. Lady Flora took no note of the 
country, as she passed along field or forest ; 
high-road or lane were all the same to her. 
She did not even notice the rain cease, and 
a break in the heavy, dark clouds, till a sun- 
beam burst sparkling upon her ; but it met no 
bright response in the Lady Flora's heart. 
She drew down the blind, and shut it out. 
The drive was long ; they had many miles of 
road to travel. Flora did not like being alone 
with her own thoughts ; for they troubled and 
harassed her. She thought the horses slow, 
and the way interminable. But the end came 
at last ; and she alighted before a respectable 
farm-house ; then told the servants to put up 
for a couple of hours, and entering the gate- 
way, passed out of their sight. 

The farm-house was approached by a long 
walk between closely-cut hedges. She did 
not move towards it, but remained standing 
near the entrance, not in an irresolute, but a 
premeditated manner, as if she had some 
purpose in view in waiting there. Then, 



152 LUCY AYLMER. 

when the sound of the carriage- wheels had 
died away, she turned back and went out 
again into the high road. Quickly she 
w^alked along, leaving the farm, with all its 
barns and out-houses behind her, passing by 
meadows of green grass and fields of waving 
corn, neither hstening to the song of the bird, 
nor the buzz of the brilliant dragon-flies that 
flew past her. The fragrant wild-flowers under 
the hedge-rows, the gay butterflies were to her 
as though they existed not. Twice she leant 
for a moment, on a stile for rest ; once she 
asked the way of a jolly plough-boy whistling 
over his day's work. Perhaps the Lady Flora 
envied him ? Presently a village came in sight 
— a little rural, English village, w^ith thatched 
cottages, and stocks on the green, and a vene- 
rable church, its ancient graves o'ershadowed 
by roses. Flora's heart beat quicker as she 
entered the quiet hamlet; and she asked a 
cottager standing by her wicket-gate, if she 
would give her a little water. 

The woman brought her some in a gilded 
mug from a cool spring close by ; and when 
Flora had drunk some, she bathed her fore- 
head and seemed to feel refreshed. The 



LUCT AYLMER. 153 

cottager said she looked weary, and invited 
her to come in ; but Elora decUned, and 
opening her purse, offered her money. This, 
however, was refused, and Flora went on 
towards the churchyard. The gate was locked ; 
there was a stile by its side, and Plora climbed 
over and sat down on a moss-covered stone. 
There were some children coming through, on 
their way from school, their hands full of 
wild-flowers. One tiny creature stopped just 
before the forlorn figure on the tomb-stone, 
and with a compassionate look gave Flora 
her nosegay, honeysuckle and wild roses tied 
up with grass. Flora took it almost me- 
chanically, and held it in her hand, though 
she scarcely knew she had it there. Presently 
she took out her watch, and began to grow 
impatient, when a tottering infirm old man 
came along the flagged walk with a bunch of 
heavy keys, and entered the vestry door. 
Flora watched him in. Why did she look 
after him so earnestly? Was there to be a 
christening or funeral, or did she expect to 
see a " Spectre Wedding" in this crumbling 
old church, that she looked so ashy pale? 
Another footstep fell on her ear ; she turned 

H 3 



^54 LUCY AYLMER. 

round quickly ; an arm was put around her, 
lips pressed hers, and low soothing w^ords 
were uttered ; but she did not speak ; and then 
she was led into that damp, earthly little 
church, with a cold chill around its walls; 
and Lady Flora and Archer stood before a 
stone-flagged chancel, and behind them the 
old sexton and a still more venerable pew- 
opener. 

Elora — Flora ! what are you doing there ? 
You, the daughter of the proud, stately Lady 
of the noble house of De Walden. You, in 
common attire, with no ornament save that 
village child's wild-flowers, which you clasp 
so nervously, why stand you there — and why 
does the clergyman in rapid and careless 
tones read aloud from the prayer-book the 
marriage service ? Oh ! Flora, what would 
Lucy NeviUc say? would she not call you 
back? But it is too late now — "foj" better 
for w^orse, for richer, for poorer," you are 
his. Why do you tremble and press that plain 
ring, and feel if it is really there ? and why 
does your hand shake as you write in yon 
dingy vestry, in that mouldy book, your 
maiden name, side l)y side w^ith his ? It is 



LUCY AYLMER. 155 

done now — no bells' have rung — no train of 
noble white-robed bridesmaids follow. No 
dowagers in stately array ; no Viscount bride- 
groom; no train of attendants and line of 
splendid equipages ; no glistening jewels and 
briUiant exotics ; no Bishop to pronounce the 
blessing ; no titled relative to give her away ! 
A fat, fox-hunting parson, a mumbling clerk, 
a tottering sexton, and palsied pew-opener — 
these were the only witnesses of Lady Flora's 
bridal. Where would the Countess's pride be 
now ! 

Affain Ladv Flora sat on a tomb -stone. 
Archer was by her side ; her head fell on his 
shoulder, and she sobbed there. Archer 
soothed and comforted her — '' A few short 
weeks, beloved," he said, " and then I may 
claim you, and we will never part again." 

" Oh, Archer ! why part now ? My mother's 
anger Avill be just as dreadful a month hence 
as it is to-day." 

" When I come to her rich and distinguished, 
then my Flora, she may not spurn me as she 
would now." 

" Rich and distinguished, dear Archer." 

" Yes, my beloved, in a few weeks hence. 



156 I.UCY AYLMER. 

I shall gain anotlicr step in my profession. I 
have talents and must distinguish myself. And 
riches, yes !" he added, in a tone of triumph. 
" I shall be rich too ; a relative has willed me 
a fortune, and, Flora, his days are numbered — 
ere long it must be mine." 

There was so much of calculation, so much 
of riches depending on death in his words, 
that Elora, almost amazed, raised her drooping 
head and looked up. " Do not talk of rank 
or riches. Oh, Archer ! I hate the very words ! 
I wish I were some poor orphan child, and 
that I owed my all to you." 

" Hush, Flora !" and Archer stooped and 
kissed her cold pale lips. " I will not have 
you complain on your wedding-day." 

" But I must, Archer ! Archer, the sepa- 
ration is not half so bad for you as for 
me. 

"Do you not then think I shall long after 
you, beloved one ?" he said reproachfully. 

" Yes, Archer, yes ; but then your home ! 
there is nothing to make you miserable 
there. No taunting words — no bitter sarcasms : 
every hour of the day I hear what a bad 
heart T have — how I have deceived Lord 



LUCY AYLMER. 157 

Glendowan — how unfeminine my conduct 
has been. If I were to sit here till night, 
I could not tell you what I have suffered !" 

" Bear it for a short time longer, sweet 
wife," he said ; " bear it for my sake, because 
you are mine : no one can tear us apart 
now." 

"No, never, never," murmured Flora; her 
head rested heavily on his shoulder, and 
there was silence complete, except some 
sparrows quarrelling in a yew-tree, and 
the sound of the blacksmith's anvil in the 
village below. 

'' Mora, my beloved !" Archer's voice 
broke on the stilly air. 

'' You ^^dll tell me we must soon separate, 
oh. Archer ! and to-morrow we leave town. 
No more hasty meeting — I go to a world of 
loneliness and misery, and you plunge deeper 
into a world of business and strivings after 
fame. Oh ! Archer, what a strange bridal ! 
I am yours, and yet you say, you still have 
to ^Ym me." 

" No longer win — but when I have acquired 
new honours, I come to claim you. Not as 
a suppliant, but a victor claiming, a rightful 



158 LUCY AYLMER. 

reward. Flora, I shall work with double zeal 
now it is for you." 

But Flora was not to be soothed. " Oh, 
Archer !" she said, " it is dreadful to think, 
no one has blessed my wedding-day ! Why 
am I so different from Lucy? Smiles and 
blessings will surround her, while they are 
denied me : even my proud mother relaxes 
when Lucy is near !" 

" Lucy is a child, a simple, artless creature, 
and every one naturally caresses her." 

" No, no, Archer, they love her for her 
goodness — because she is so pure, so holy !" 
exclaimed Flora. 

" A canopy of smiles hangs over her 
now ; but who knows w^hether it mil not 
turn to a veil of weeping. It is not always 
the happiest bride. Flora beloved, with whom 
the after life glides smoothest." 

" With Lucy it will be ever smooth ; all 
things must be sunny to her ; but to me — " 
Flora stopped with a sudden exclamation of 
horror — the bell from the old dreary church 
began to toll ; for the first time Flora looked 
towards the village, and beheld a rustic 
funeral ascending the slope. 



LUCY AYLMER. 159 

" Oh, Archer, come awav !" Flora ex- 
claimed in a low, hoarse tone, as she caught 
his arm convulsively. The bell continued 
its mournful sound as Archer led his trem- 
bling bride from the church -yard. Flora was 
not naturally superstitious, but there was some- 
thing in that solemn bell, that open grave, 
and the long train of youthful mourners 
following a sister to her silent home, that 
sent a cold chill to Flora's heart^a funeral 
on her wedding day ! It seemed ominous 
of ill. She was silent till they passed the 
village. 

" Archer," she then said suddenly, " may 
I let Lucy know all — may I beg her to in- 
tercede now, this day, with my mother. She 
must relent \ she must pardon me ; and then 
to-morrow, we need not part ? Oh, that 
bell ! it terrifies me. Archer, if we are 
separated, we may never meet again !" 

"Flora, dearest Flora!" he exclaimed, a 
little of his natural impatience breaking 
forth; "listen to me calmly. We are mar- 
ried now, and there shoidd be no secrets 
between us. I told you before, I have a re- 
lative rich and old, whose property is made 



160 LUCY AYLMER. 

over to me. But did he know I had married 
in secret, he would cut it all off from me, 
every farthing, and then farewell to all my 
schemes for you! Flora, till he dies, our 
marriage must be a profound secret from all 
the world !" 

There was a tone of authority in Archer's 
voice, which, however, Lady Flora heeded 
not, but throwing herself into Archer's arms, 
she exclaimed in an outburst of grief : 

"He may live for years — for long, long 
years ! and must we be torn asunder for the 
sake of paltry riches? No, no. Archer, it 
must not be — my father left me a fortune, 
no one can take from me, it is all yours. 
Let us fly to the continent, far, far away from 
those who care not for us, and live in soli- 
tude and love !" 

"Solitude and love!" strange words to 
Archer's ears. Fame and riches were in accor- 
dance with his own heart's desires ; fame, 
that he might be exalted above his fellow- 
men ; and riches unlawfully acquired to sup- 
port fame ! and the trusting Flora looked on 
him as perfect, and thought that all his am- 
bitious plans were for her sake. He was her 



LUCY AYLMER. 161 

idol. She adored him above rehgion ; above 
holy desires ; above heaven itself ; and wlien she 
bade him adieu with tearless eyes, but with 
an agonized working in her pale, marble-like 
face — then it seemed as if the world had gone 
from her ! She was alone, though the birds 
warbled harmoniously, and the heavens above 
were so blue, so enchantingly blue, that it 
appeared as if angels could not be far distant, 
or that holy city, whose untold glories seemed 
almost to begin in that mighty canopy bathed 
in the brio;ht sunshine ! But Flora heeded 
not nature's beauties — she trod the lanes with 
swift but uneven step ; her head bent down, 
her right hand clasped tightly over the left, 
her fingers holding fast the ring which she 
must so soon conceal ; aye, and her name and 
everything appertaining to him I He had said 
so — it must be. He would not fly with her — 
no, not for all her entreaties. He would toil for 
her ; gain for her ; then lay his laurels at her 
feet and claim her proudly — she should be 
his queen, and the world would not look 
down on Flora Neville ; but envy her — her 
lordly mansion — her jewels, her grandeur — 
and her husband 1 And then — ah ! she shoidd 



162 



LUCY AYLMER. 



gaze from her pedestal on those who had 
spurned and scorned her, and in her turn, 
she should spurn and scorn them ! She thought 
over all this as she went up the lane ; but no 
comfort did her husband's proud, revengeful 
words bring to her — anguish was on her brow 
and in her heart ; and that day brought no 
blessing to her. 

Lady Flora was nearly spent with fatigue 
and excitement when she arrived at White's 
farm, and not a little relieved was she when 
told by a servant that her mistress and all the 
family were gone for a day's excursion to 
Fairlop. Flora said, she would wait there for 
her carriage ; and the girl showed her into a 
parlour, and brought her some refreshment — 
but her appetite was gone : she cared not for 
her favourite little round loaves, the delicious 
golden butter, nor the home-cured ham and 
preserves. When the maid was gone, she 
pushed them all from her ; and after drinking 
a glass of clear spring water, she threw her- 
self on the hard sofa and covered her eyes 
with her handkerchief to shut out the light — 
and exhausted and weary, she fell into a heavy 
doze, which lasted a brief half-hour ; and then 



LUCY ATLMER. 163 

she was roused by the servant announcing 
the arrival of her carriage. Flora started 
up with a wild look, which almost terrified the 
girl ; and for the first time Flora bethought 
herself of herring. Her gloves were off; had 
the girl seen it ? But no, it Avas concealed by 
her mantle. Hastily she bade the maid to tell 
her servants their mistress was coming — then 
when the door closed, quickly she drew off the 
ring, pressed it to her burning lips, and placed 
it in a large old locket she wore beneath her 
dress, a boyish gift of the young Earl, who 
had chosen it on account of its size and 
some diamonds which glittered on the back. 
And Flora lay Archer's ring side by side 
with the brown, wavy lock of hair which 
she loved, with a fondness only her 
poor brother had drawn forth, and which 
no one thought her capable of feeling. 
Flora reclined wearily in the carriage, with 
her bonnet in her lap ; her throbbing aching 
head could not bear even its light pressure ; 
and a dreamy state of unconsciousness seemed 
to come over her : it was not sleep, but a 
deadening feeling, which appeared almost to 
crush her. 



164 LUCY AYLMER. 

The Countess returned from a drive just as 
Lady Flora came in. They met in the hall. 

'■ Flora !" the Countess exclaimed, " what 
is the matter?'* 

" Nothing, mamma," she replied. 

" You look so strange and wild," con- 
tinued her mother, " what have you been 
doing?" 

" It is my head, mamma," said Flora in a 
tone of passive misery. 

" I mean your dress child — come and look 
at yourself : your bonnet is crushed, your veil 
hangs round your throat, and as to your 
mantle, it is twisted entirely round." 

" Oh, mamma ! I did not know," Flora 
murmured, as she followed the Countess 
mechanically into the library, and dropped 
down on the first chair by the door. Lady 
de Walden opened some notes which had 
arrived in her absence, and Flora sat still, 
with her dark eyes fixed on her mother with 
an eager, burning look. She was longing to 
throw herself at her mother's feet, and con- 
fessing all, implore forgiveness ; but her hus- 
band's secret must be kept. There was no 
comfort for her. 



LUCY AYLMER. 165 

The Countess looked up suddenly, " Flora, 
I wish you would not stare at me. You make 
me feel quite uncomfortable." 

" I beg your pardon, mamma," and Mora 
rose. 

There was something in Mora's look of 
utter misery, that touched one of the better 
chords of the Countess's heart. 

" I hope they gave you some refreshments. 
Mora," she said. 

These words would have been nothing to 
any one else, but to Mora any sympathy from 
her mother was gladdening, and she repHed 
in a brighter tone : " Yes, mamma, thank 
you ; nurse and all the family were out ; but T 
rested." 

"The journey has been too much for 
you. Dr. Heath particularly forbade fa- 
tigue." 

"He said the drive might do me good, 
mamma," Mora replied, as she held by the 
handle of the door. 

"I do not think it has," the Countess 
answered, turning over the leaves of a book 
by her side. "Lie down till dinner, and 
ring for wine ; you require a stimulant." 



166 LUCY AYLMER. 

" I would prefer ice, thank you, mamma," 
said Flora. 

" I will send you some. Now go and remain 
very quiet, and do not torment yourself with 
thinking." 

Flora longed to go and kiss her mother, if 
it were only her hand ; but the Countess dis- 
liked demonstrations ; and she did not know 
if she might venture, so she went away with 
slow and tottering steps, grasping every- 
thing near her for support ; blaming herself 
for her timidity with her mother, and that she 
had ever thought her harsh. Oh ! what 
would not sympathy have effected w^th Flora ! 
The Countess never thought of this ; she only 
ejaculated as she watched Flora's recetling 
figure : 

" What an endless trouble that poor child 
is to me !" and then she forgot Flora and 
everything, in a novel she had brought with 
her. There was an ' unfortunate heroine ' in 
her own family, only she knew it not ! but 
before the Countess began to read, she rang 
the bell and told a servant to send Stevens 
to Lady Flora with ice. 

In the meanwhile Archer went back to his 



LUCY AYLMEH. 167 

chambers, and from thence to May Fair, and 
acted as thoudi nothing out of the ordinary 
routine of his life had happened. He escorted 
his sister to a ball that evening, danced, 
talked, made himself generally agreeable, 
and was looked at longingly by many an 
aspiring mother, and made the subject of 
conversation by many a young lady to her 
confidential friend. Numberless were the sur- 
mises as to when and whom Mr. Neville 
would marry — and he, conscious of being 
watched, courted and flattered, danced on, 
talked on, with perfect unconcern — for the 
Lady Flora was his now ; and thus one am- 
bitious scheme had succeeded. And yet it 
seemed strange to make her his vdfe, only to 
leave her again to anxiety and sorrow ; but 
Archer knew the part he was playing, and 
played it well. He could have obtained her 
acceptance, and preserved the secret engage- 
ment until Sir Edgar Tyrrell's death had 
made him the possessor of the expected pro- 
perty; but he had studied Flora's character, 
and was aware how timid and yielding she 
was ; and he feared that when away from his 



168 LUCY AYLMER. 

immediate influence, she would yield to the 
Countess's anger and Lord Glendowan's en- 
treaties, and be induced once more to receive 
her former lover. Archer knew she cared 
not for his Lordship ; but what might not her 
mother's threats effect ? Thus came about the 
clandestine wedding. Archer had felt no com- 
punction in having been the means of inducing 
Lady Flora to commit a step, Avhich if dis- 
covered would bring down upon her anger and 
perhaps disgrace. He only looked upon it as a 
means to gratify his ambition ; not but that he 
loved her, though his love was selfish and ever 
subservient to his pride. But mth great 
concern and anxiety, did he regard the 
intended marriage between his younger niece 
and Sir Edgar's nephew. He had heard the 
Baronet express his approbation of such an 
alliance, and his wish to remember Lucy in 
his will; and now he dreaded the tidings 
reaching Sir Edgar's ear. Nothing but the 
death of the Baronet would free him from his 
incessant fears, lest Robert shoukl be rein- 
stated in his uncle's favour. 

Lady Tyrrell, he knew, desired this, and 



LUCY AYLMER. 169 

Archer trembled, lest after all his schemes and 
insinuations against the unoffending Robert, 
he might yet fail in his darhng wish, the 
hope and dream of his Hfe, that of being 
nominated the heir to Sir Edgar's name and 
property ! 



VOL II. 



170 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Oh, how this spring of love resembleth 
The uncertain glory of an April day ; 
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun, 
And by and by a cloud takes all away ! 

SHAKSPEARE. 

Blithe voices sounded once more in the 
old Manor House. Maude, her flounces 
exchanged for a country cotton, was kneehng 
on the floor of their favourite room, unpack- 
ing ; while Lucy took away the things as 
Maude tossed them out, and carried them to 
their respective places. The fresh summer 
breeze came wafted in at the open windows, 
laden with the sweet perfume of new-mown hay, 
which was mingled with the fragrance of a 
vase of roses and jessamine on the table. 



LUCY AYLMER. 171 

A thrush in the tall elm whose shadow 
rested on the grass was warbling forth a 
gentle song, while a sparrow hopped fearlessly 
on the window-ledge, and picked the seeds 
which Maude's canary scattered about. 

" The countiy is a capital place after all, 
Lucy !" exclaimed ]\laude, as she tossed a 
number of white shoes on the floor. '' I 
feel more independent here than in London. 
Aunt Augusta is a good creature, but I like 
being my ot\ti mistress. Let me see ; what 
happens to-day ?" 

"There will not be time to do much," 
said Lucy, carefully collecting together the 
scattered articles, as Maude threw them out 
of the boxes. 

" Oh ! this unpacking is nothing," replied 
Maude ; " it shall all be finished before dinner. 
I am wild to mount the new black horse ; 
you must come and see him presently. Such 
a splendid creature ! glorious at a hunt !" 

" I wish you had not set your heart on 
following the hounds, Maude, dear," said 
Lucy. 

"My darling, there is not the shghtest 

I 2 



172 LUCY AYLMER. 

danger ; it would take a great deal to unhorse 
me/' 

" I know you ride very well — but Maude," 
and here Lucy hesitated a little. 
"Well, little sis?" 

" Only Mr. Erresford did not seem to 
think ladies were in their proper place at a 
hunt." 

" Over prudent young man ! What pos- 
sible harm does he think would befall me? 
Of course, I should never go without 
papa." 

" So I told him," said Lucy timidly. 
" And he discussed the matter with you 1" 
exclaimed Maude laughing. " He takes an 
uncommon interest in me." 

"I think he does in all of us," observed 
Lucy, folding up Maude's last ball 
dress. 

" I suppose you will call this afternoon 
at Castle St. Agnes," said Maude. 

" No, Maude. Robert comes for me at 
three o'clock to go to Friarsford." 
" You cannot walk, Lucy ?" 
"Papa has lent us the dog-cart. Robert 



LUCY AYLMEU. 173 

wishes particularly to enquire sometliing 
about the new poor people who have come to 
Smith's cottage." 

" Oh, by the bye 1 there is a post office 
established at Friarsford, at Field's the sta- 
tioner. Susan told me ; and by her account, 
Lady Flora seems to have taken up immensely 
with Field: she went there four times last 
week. I should not imagine his paper and 
envelopes were first-rate." 

" What a gossip Susan is !" said Lucy 
laughing ; " she must have watched Lady 
Flora very closely." 

" She thinks her dreadfully changed," ob- 
served Maude. 

" So does Robert," said Lucy gravely. " He 
told me last night he was shocked with the 
alteration ; he says she looked unutterably 
wretched." 

" My dear Lucy, you look as solemn as 
though you could help it. Aunt Augusta 
fancies she is hopelessly in love vdih some 
one." 

" No, Maude, impossible 1" exclaimed Lucy 
in a surprised tone. 

"Why not?" said Maude. "It is very 



174 LUCY AYLMER. 

probable. I would not be a daughter of the 
Countess De Walden for something ! Here, 
Lucy, books, a goodly pile ! ' George Her- 
bert,' of course, your inseparable travelling 
companion ! What is to be your duty when 
you are a country parson's wife ?" 

Lucy blushed as she received the volume 
into her outstretched hand. Then came a 
quantity of music, which Lucy carried away 
do\^ai-stairs. 

When she returned, Maude exclaimed, 
" Of course, Lady Plora will be my sister 
bridesmaid ?" 

" I hope so. But, dear Maude, there must 
be no grand doings. I could not bear 
them." 

" Nonsense, darling, such a bride ought to 
have a lovely wedding — oh ! Lucy, only six 
weeks more !" and Maude sighed. Lucy 
stooped down and kissed her. " You will not 
miss me, Maude ; there will be no separa- 
tion." 

" I shall miss you every hour of my life ! 
There, never mind," exclaimed Maude, with a 
comic iristesse, "what can't be ciu^ed must 
be endured ! Robert comes in for the lion's 



LUCY AYLMER. 175 

share, and I must be content mtli his leav- 
mgs ! 

Lucy could not help laughing, and Maude 
laughed also. " It will be the most comical 
thing in the world to see you a married 
woman, Lu. IIow will you comport your- 
self?" 

" I do not know," Lucy rephed. " I shall 
try my best." 

" You will know it all in some way, I 
suppose," said Maude : " look up your parish- 
ioners and pay your bills weekly, that is all 
the advice I can give you." 

Lucy smiled, " There will be plenty to do. 
Old Miss Ferrers always said, her days seemed 
passed before they began." 

" She was an old busy-body !" replied 
Maude. " Heigh-ho ! poor little Lu ! you must 
not kill yourself in the excess of matronly 
zeal ! there, now we have done our share. 
Susan can clear up the rest ; come down into 
the field." 

As Maude rang the bell for their little 
maid, she quickly brushed away a tear : 
her love for Lucy was more intense than she 
had ever imagined it to be. With their 



176 LUCY AYLMER. 

arms twined around each other, the sisters 
went down into the meadow, where their 
father was lying among the grass, with 
his felt hat over his eyes to screen them 
from the sun. They approached him softly, 
and Lucy knelt down and kissed him. 
The Squire started up, " My darlings, 
what you here !" he exclaimed. " I thought 
you were deep in unpacking your London 
finery ?" 

" And we thought at least you were 
making hay, papa," said Maude, sinking on 
a heap of grass. Lucy sat down by the 
Squire, who put his arm around her. 

" Well, my Lucy bird, here Ave are at home 
again ; and how do you feel ?" 

" Oh ! very happy, papa," said Lucy gently. 
" The Manor looks so beautiful and sunny, and 
not at all changed." 

" Aye, not one bit. I took precious care of 
that: you would scarcely know there had 
been any repairs, except that it is all 
clean." 

" Hills and valleys are better than streets, 
I do declare," exclaimed Maude, who had 
looked thoughtful for a moment ; " and the 



LUCY AYLMER. 177 

old Manor is better than a tall, straight 
London house." 

" So Missey is not converted to town ways 
after all ?" said the Squire. 

"Not in the least," replied Maude. "I 
enjoyed it all when I was there ; but home is a 
pleasant change. One wearies of London 
after a season, and is glad to flee from it." 

"Well said!" exclaimed the Squire, "our 
Maude is becoming quite a philosopher. 
Hurrah for old Forsted, the country for ever 1" 
and up flew the Squire's hat into the air. 

" I declare papa is growing quite youthful," 
said Maude, tossing a handful of hay over her 
father. 

Ever mirthful, up started the Squire, and 
showers of grass flew around. Maude all life 
and activity gathered armsfull as fast as her 
father. Lucy standing by laughed so much 
as to be unable to render assistance on either 
side ; at length Maude, exhausted with her 
froHc, yielded ; and the Squire picking up his 
hat and wiping his brows, went away with 
the girls to the stables, to see the new horse, 
for which he had given some enormous price. 
Maude petted and praised the noble animal, 

I 3 



178 LUCY AYLMER. 

and ended by donning an old riding-skirt, 
and cantering him round the field, till the 
dinner-bell rang, when she hurriedly dressed, 
and took her long forsaken place at the head 
of the table. Dinner was scarcely concluded, 
when Robert came in, and then Lucy went a 
drive with him to the little post-town, and 
round the hamlets of Sleebury and Branston, 
returning at sunset to find tea laid out-of- 
doors under the trees, and Maude awaiting 
her darling sister at the gates. There was 
a happy little party at that rural meal, 
and yet a cloud sometimes passed over the 
Squire and Maude, when they thought that in 
six weeks they were to give up their Lucy. 
August's late days were to see her a bride, 
and the Manorial home robbed of its sweetest 
ornament — but there was no reason for delay- 
ing the marriage, Maude hated to be selfish ; 
and the Squire tried to forget the parting, and 
promised himself many an evening at the 
parsonage — yet Lucy's home-ties would be 
broken then ; she would no longer be entirely 
theirs. 

There was only one thing on returning 
home which distressed Lucy, though not a 



LUCY AYLMER. 179 

word of fault-finding passed her gentle lips ; 
and tliis was tlie alterations in the church. 
The suggestions of Lady Anne and Hubert 
Mostyn, had been carried out by the jielding, 
complying Robert. A large, handsome bow 
chancel had been thrown out, sweeping away 
the vestr}^ and the old Manor pew. Lady 
Anne's georgeous carpet, the model from the 
Marchesa's chapel, decorated the floor with 
crosses enough to delight all the fathers of 
the Romish church. The altar-cloth cor- 
responded ; and on it reposed crimson cushions 
and emblazoned books with crosses on the 
backs and depending from the markers. The 
old pulpit stood there still with the oak 
vizors and helmets so quaintly carved on its 
front ; but the reading desk was swept away, 
and a substitute provided. The old square 
pews were no more ; open sittings occupied 
their place. Hubert Mostyn had presented 
the Church with an east window, in beautiful 
chaste colouring, which would have been very 
suitable, but for the darkness it thi'ew over the 
church ; as did the other smaller -^-indows 
with purple fleur-de-lis and gold crosses on 
an opaque white ground. A handsome low 



180 LUCY ATLMER. 

pew had been built for the Castle, and a 
corresponding one for the Manor. The 
church roof was raised, and a disguised cross 
stood prominent. St. Walburga was the old 
St. Walburga no longer. Lucy felt this and 
sighed sadly as she knelt in the new pew on 
the first home Sunday. 

After service was over, the Squire stormed, 
and Maude was strongly indignant ; but Lucy 
was silent, yet felt more than they. She 
remained behind in the church-yard, talking 
to a poor woman ; and when they separated, 
and the whole of the congregation had dis- 
persed, and the church was empty, (it was 
left unlocked now between services) by an 
impulse, softly Lucy entered the deserted 
aisle, and stood where the sun came pouring 
in over the recumbent crusader ancestor of 
the Nevilles, and " his fayre ladye, ye Dame 
Lucie, who was unto her Lord a right lovinge 
Wife, a Priende to ye poore, and a mercyfulle 
neighbour unto all who were distressed or 
needie/' So said the monument ; audit also 
recorded that she died in a green old age. 
As Lucy Neville stood by the '' fair Lucie" of 
the days of Cocur- de-Lion, she folded her 



LUCY AYLMER. 181 

hands, and bowed her head reverently. Then 
her knee bended on a hassock near, and she 
prayed that she might be kept from the 
sorrows of dissention and controversy, and 
yet never change hi her love for Heaven — 
never suffer show or ornaments to distract her 
eye from the worship of God and Him alone ! 
She held a little Bible in her hand ; and 
when she rose up, her lips pressed it reverently, 
and she said mentally, " It is safe here !" and 
suddenly two hues of her favourite George 
Herbert came to her mind : 

" Starres are poore books, and oftentimes do misse — 
This book of starres lights to eternal blisse." 

A sweet smile played around her lips. She 
held her Bible fast in her hand ; aye, and its 
precepts were engraven on her heart ; and 
she felt no fear. She walked quietly away 
beneath the old yew trees in the church-yard, 
her face shaded by her parasol from the July 
sun, so that she did not see Robert coming 
towards her, till his voice sounded on her ear. 
She looked up, and put her hand in his, as 
she said : 

" 1 did not expect to meet you, Robert." 



182 LUCY AYLMER. 

"I saw you remain behind, and came to 
find you Lucy-bird," he repHed. 

" I stopped to speak to poor old Anne, and 
then I went back to look at the church. I 
would not allow myself to notice it particularly 
during the service ; so I went again to see 
the change, and satisfy myself if it were 
real." 

'' You do not like it, dearest ?" Robert 
asked. 

" No," replied Lucy^ gravely. 

" I could not help it," he said in a tone of 
apology. " Lady Anne and Mostyn were 
determined on having it so. Besides, darling, 
you must confess alterations were needed. 
We looked sadly unorthodox before with so 
much white paint, and such a poor chancel I 
There was no beauty in it." 

" Robert, dear ! is not that church most 
beautiful where the most heartfelt prayers 
are said. True hearts are a greater adorn- 
ment than fine architecture." 

Robert looked thoughtful. 

" I thought, darling, you admired fine old 
churches ?" he said. 

"Yes, dear Robert, I do. They are so 



LUCY AYLMER. 1S3 

grand and yet so simple. But never mind 
if St. Walbiirga is altered ! We can be the 
same — true to the Bible ; and then we must 
be true to our church." 

She smiled sweetly, and began to speak of 
other things as Robert accompanied her to the 
Manor gates. Her gentle silence was more 
reproof to Robert than any words could have 
been. Ever wavering, he had begun to change 
in his clerical ^dews. Hubert ]\Iostyn's society, 
and Lady Anne's influence, made an impression 
upon him. He thought their works so holy, 
their lives so austerely good, that their doc- 
trine must be more than commonly elevated. 
Mostyn lent him books ; Robert read them, 
and was puzzled. Lady Anne propounded 
new theories, against which his wavering 
mind found no argument ; and Robert, 
though outwardly unchanged, was in a fair 
way to follow on whither his new friends 
were going, the road that leads to Rome. 
Cecil was extremely annoyed with the direct 
opposition to liis mshes regarding the church. 
He was disappointed in Robert. His advice 
had been unheeded; and yet his kind heart 
could not blame him. Like Lucy, he tried 



184 LUCY AYLMER. 

soft words, not reproof. Lady Anne gloried 
in her success, and was satisfied ; and Agnese 
was more than satisfied — she triumphed. 
Lady Flora alone was indifferent to everything, 
save the sorrows of her own heart. The 
Countess grew increasingly cold and stern, 
and reproached Plora continually for her 
conduct towards Lord Glendowan, who had 
written many letters to Elora, beseeching her 
to pause ere she entirely cast him off — to 
let him still retain one ray of hope. But 
Flora replied " it was impossible — hope was 
gone." 

Sometimes she upbraided herself severely 
for her clandestine marriage. What had it 
done for her? She was still an exile from 
her beloved Archer ; still an unhappy inmate 
of her mother's roof. Why not have waited 
until his position was elevated ? Then, perhaps, 
her mother's hard heart might have relented. 
Oh ! why had Archer persuaded her ? Day 
after day she wrote imploring letters beseech- 
ing him to come to her; and made solitary 
journeys to Friarsford, that she might herself 
post them. His answers were written in a 
disguised hand, begging her to wait a little 



LUCY AYLMER, 185 

longer ; wait for his days of wealth and power, 
which soon would come ; and then he ran on 
in a strain so fond, so adoring, that she 
reproached herself for her misgivings, and 
yet wept many silent tears over her hard 
fate. 

Lady Flora sat alone one afternoon on the 
terrace, her face looking careworn and pale, 
and her eyes anxious and bright, and full of 
longings after something unfulfilled, her em- 
broidery hanging hstlessly from her hands, 
when Lucy's step was heard on the stone 
walk. Flora started, and the colom- came to 
her cheeks, as she rose to welcome her friend, 
and saw Maude following her. They were 
soon seated all three together, Lucy holding 
Ladv Flora's hand, Maude drumminoj her 
parasol on the terrace pavement. 

"Flora, dear, we have come to make an 
old request !" Lucy said, after a little com- 
mon-place conversation. 

Lady Flora's voice trembled as she replied 
hurriedly, " Oh, Lucy ! you must indeed for- 
give me, but I cannot be your bridesmaid. 
I wiU come to your wedding, darling, to 



186 LUCY AYLMER. 

please you, but only among the matronly 
ones ; light, gay hearts should be your bride- 
maidens, not a poor old saddened heart like 
mine !" Flora smiled a wintry smile, but 
which lighted up her pensive face, till it 
almost gave it a beauty. 

" But, Mora, dear, why should you con- 
tinue to be sad, you do not know how incom- 
plete it will be without you ? Next to Maude 
I love you, and you ought to be near me 
on my wedding day !" Lucy looked up ap- 
pealingly. 

" Besides," Maude began, " what am I 
to do without support : I had calculated upon 
your assistance in my post of honour. I 
think rousing yourself, Lady Plora, would do 
you good." 

" Oh ! if I could I" sighed Flora. 

Lucy looked at Maude, as if fearing she 
had said too much ; but Maude continued : 

" It is to be as quiet an affair as possible : 
little Lu does not like grand doings, and 
there are very few relations to ask — you know 
Robert has none in England except the 
Tyrrels whom he never sees ; and we have 



LUCY AYLMER= 187 

only Aunt Augusta and Uncle Archer. All 
your family have promised to be present ; and 
with Mr. Lewis to marry them, and Mr. 
Mostyn as groomsman, and Amy and Kitty 
Lewis as the other bridesmaids, there will 
only be fourteen all together. You see it is 
quite a private affair." 

" We shall be very quiet, because papa 
will feel it less," observed Lucy. 

" Lucy, darling girl, I will do anything for 
you, but your bridesmaid I cannot be. If you 
love me, ask it not again !" exclaimed Lady 
Flora, suddenly bursting into tears. 

Lucy looked dismayed. Each day Flora 
became more incomprehensible to her. How- 
ever, she thought not of her own disappoint- 
ment, but endeavoured to calm her ; up- 
braiding herself with having urged her 
wish. Quickly Flora was restored to her 
usual quietude, aud even enquired about 
the dresses and the arrangements for her 
tour ; and to Maude her conduct appeared 
more than ever inexplicable. 

Lucy's wedding — how Flora longed for, 
and yet dreaded it ! Her husband would 



188 LUCY AYLMER. 

be there ; she would see him, hear his clear 
voice, oh, bliss ! Yet she must appear as 
though he were nought to her ; speak to him 
by stealth; and perhaps part without one 
led embrace ! 

The weeks between her return to the 
Castle and Lucy's wedding, passed slowly 
and sadly away. Solitary rambles ; hurried 
visits to Lucy; reproachful words from the 
Countess ; total neglect from the Lady Anne ; 
such was her dreary lot ! 

And Lucy ! how did the last few weeks 
of her maiden life pass? In increased love 
and tenderness towards her father and sister ; 
in visits to the poor ; little arrangements for 
her new house ; preparations for her simple 
trousseau; greater forgetfulness of self; in- 
creased thought, care and love for all around. 
No wonder the villagers called her their 
" dear little lady !" No wonder the Squire 
cried like a child, at the idea of such a slight 
separation ! No wonder Maude's cheeks 
glowed with pride at the very mention of 
her Lucy's name ! And Robert, oh ! he was 
joy itself. He to become the richest, hap- 



LUCY AYLMER. 189 

piest man in Christendom vdih the best, 
sweetest wife ! and eagerly he looked for- 
ward to the twenty-sixth of August, the 
day of days to him ! 



190 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Marry thee, marry thee, marry, marry; if thou shouldst 
marry, marry, thou shalt find good therein, therein, so marry, 
marry. 

LONGFELLOW. 

Uncle Archer had arrived, and Aunt 
Augusta, bringing with her the wedding-dress 
on the wedding eve. The moon shone brightly 
and promised a fair morrow ; all Forsted were 
going to take a holiday — no work was to be 
done on the day that " our Parson married 
little Miss Neville !" Even Lady Anne seemed 
roused from her indifference, and had sent to 
her Sunday scholars an uniform of dark green, 
the De AValden colour — that they might 
appear trim and neat on the morrow. 

And when the morrow came, it broke forth 



LUCY ayl:\ier. 191 

gloriously, cloudlessly : no hearts could have 
desired more sunshine, fewer clouds ! Almost 
at cock-crow, the ringers mounted the belfry, 
and set the bells into a joyful peal ; while all 
the children Worsted contained, who were able 
to go alone, trooped forth to fields and lanes 
vying A^dth each other who could cull the 
freshest and brightest posies to strew " our 
Miss Lucy's path." 

Honey-suckle and roses, coni-flowers, 
orcliis, every variety of plant that grew in 
those Somerset nooks did the happy children 
find. What the girls could not reach, the boys 
scrambled for ; it was a voluntary act of love : 
no bride had planned it for herself, no school- 
mistress enforced order ; but there was not a 
child who did not love Lucy, and delight in 
strewing her with summer blossoms. 

The bells awoke her from her calm, sweet 
sleep ; they broke on her ears like the melody 
of a dream. " Think when the bells do 
chime, 'tis angels music !" They seemed so 
more than ever to her angel's notes ushering 
in her wedding-day — it was a happy waking ! 

She opened the window to let the music 
in. It rose ; it fell ; loudly, softly, it mingled 



192 LULY AYLMER. 

with lier thoughts, her prayers, her Bible- 
reading, and hallowed them all. 

The bells rang on without ceasing, till near 
eleven, when the ringers descended from the 
belfry, to see the sight — and a pretty one it 
was to view. Sixty children of all ages and 
sizes, stood on either side the flagged walk 
leading from the gates to the church door, the 
girls in front, the boys behind — then matrons 
and sunburnt men, and veteran labourers, 
whose life's work was nearly ended, stood 
among the tombstones to see her and the folks 
go in. 

Mr. Lewis, the rector of Priarsford arrived 
first, with two fair little girls, and an elder sister, 
to supply Lady Flora's place, all attired in white, 
spotless white. Then came the bridegroom 
slightly agitated, but very happy, accompanied 
by Cecil Erresford and Hubert Mostyn 
after them the Countess and her daughters 
then Archer and Miss Neville Avith Maude 
and lastly the Bride in a flowing white mushn 
dress, (her own choice) a wreath of natural 
flowers fastening on the veil that hung over 
her sweet, calm face. Her hand held fast her 
father's arm. Poor Squire, he was loth to 



LUCY AYLMER. 193 

give lier up, and kept that tiny hand as long 
as possible. Maude was close behind her 
Lucy, her eyes fixed on her from the time 
she entered the church till the ceremony was 
over. She looked beautiful as ever, yet 
proudly sad, and thought of no one object but 
her idolized sister. 

Behind Maude, trembling, deadly pale and 
ready to faint, was Lady Flora, her gracefully 
flowing pale silk and folds of white lace, 
giving her a bride-like appearance. By her, 
very, very near, . within touch, stood her hus- 
band, his lips compressed, his eagle eyes 
looking proudly down. No one noticed them ; 
no one read the thoughts of their hearts, or 
dreamt that their fate was in any way linked 
together. AU eyes were fixed on Lucy, as, in 
the old church, where numbers had seen her 
seventeen years before baptized ; the whole 
village now heard her marriage vows. Unfal- 
tering and clearly she promised to be all in all 
to her husband, to love him, to honour, to obey. 
Would she keep her vows ? Who could doubt 
it ? And would he love her and cherish her for 
ever ? He said he would in manly tones ; then 
he heard read his duty towards her, hers to him. 

^^ol.. II. K 



194 LUCY AYLMEK. 

He heard the blessing, and the bells break forth 
above his head, and he knew she was indeed 
his ; for a long life, or short years, she was his 
own Lucy : no one could part them — but him- 
self — did he think of that ? No, of nothing 
but his bride. He watched her tiny hand write 
the name of her forefathers after her baptismal 
name once more, and then he led her away in 
joy and happiness back to her old manorial 
home. 

Oh 1 it was a happy w^edding. She had 
trodden through a pathway of flowers, the 
summer rose and fair eglantine ; and if bless- 
ings showering on her as she passed would 
avail to bring a happy hfe — oh, what would hers 
be! 

The bells rang on, on. Throughout the 
breakfast, when all wore bright looks, if not 
light hearts, the Countess was smiling and 
gracious. Lady Anne courteous. Lady Flora's 
sorrow-cloud hghtened beneath her husband's 
whispered tones of love. Maude looked 
beautiful, and Cecil good and true. The 
Squire's face was open and honest as ever. 
Implicitly he trusted his Lucy's husband ; for 
the rest, Miss Neville was proud of the party ; 



LUCY AYLMER. 195 

and Robert, the principal actor, longed for the 
concluding speeches to end, and to set out on 
their quiet Httle trip to the Channel Isles. 
On rang the bells ; the air was full of their 
sound ; even over at Braustone and Friarsford 
the bells made known that little Lucy 
Neville was a bride. 

" May Robert ever guard and treasure her 
lovingly and truly !" was Cecil's heart's 
prayer, as he stood looking out on the lawn ; 
and when Robert, as he brought Lucy down 
to the carriage, stopped and put her hand 
in his friend and patron's, Cecil said warmly : 
*' God bless you both, and give you every 
happiness !" 

"And may every blessing attend you, 
Cecil, for without you, I should never have 
seen this happy day. Lucy, Cecil must be 
your friend for my sake ; to me he is friend, 
benefactor, brother, everything." 

Then said Lucy, " I will be his sister." 

Cecil gently raised her hand to his lips 
as he said : " A long and unclouded life to 
my sweet sister Lucy !" and so they parted ; 
and Cecil felt the nobihty of having conquered 

K 2 



196 LUCY AYLMER. 

his own heart's wishes, and made them sub- 
servient to his friendship. 

The whole of the wedding party stood on 
the hall steps to see the bride off — her father 
held her in his arms with a long embrace, as 
though he could not bear the parting. Maude 
bore up proudly, no eye might see her sorrow ; 
it was reserved for nightfall and solitude. No 
tears were for Lucy ; she was agitated, and 
her sweet face was deadly pale ; but when she 
left the village, her calmness returned. 

" Every one has been so extremely 
kind, Robert," were the first words she 
said. 

"I do not see how they could act otherwise, 
dearest Lucy," he replied. 

" Let me be grateful," she said play- 
fuUy. 

" Everything about you was certainly sun- 
tipped, my own Lucy, and as you came into 
the church, the light caught your veil Avith the 
loveliest glow imaginable." 

Lucy looked up brightly. " I saw nothing 
but the crowd of villagers in the churchyard. 
It is so good of the Countess to feast them 



LUCY AYLMER. 197 

all in the Park ; she could not do more for 
Lady Flora." 

" Forsted will be merry, and you will be the 
universal theme of applause." 

" I cannot help thinking, dear Robert, of 
all those beautifid flowers which feU around 
me to-day ; kindness certainly is a wonder- 
ful thing — it visits us like a beam from 
heaven." 

" And aU the kindness of to-day was per- 
fectly unprompted," observed Robert. 

Soon after this, the carriage rattled over the 
quiet little village of Friarsford. At one of 
the rectory windows, Mr. Lewis's invalid wife 
stood watching for the bride ; another window 
was filled T\ith little heads nodding to Lucy, 
who kissed her hand as long as tl^y remained 
in view. 

Presently Lucy discovered some clouds 
gathering in the blue sky, and Robert pre- 
dicted rain : it continued fine, however, 
throughout the journey to town. But when 
the bridal pair were safely lodged in Archer 
Neville's house, in May-Fair, they were 
witnesses to a most terrific thunder-storm. 
Robert said it should have kept ofi* during 



198 LUCY AYLMER. 

their wedding-day; but Lucy thought the 
roUing thunder and bright flashes of lightning 
grand, and was not superstitious like the 
Worsted folks, who regarded the storm as 
ominous of evil to the fair young bride, 
who while they shook their heads and 
grumbled, was quietly occupied in writing 
a little note to the Squire and Maude, 
informing them of her happy arrival in 
town. 

Maude smiled brightly while she read 
Lucy's letter, her father looking over her 
shoulders as she stood by the drawing-room 
window waiting for the horses to come 
round. 

" Dear little Lu ! you see it is all right, 
papa, thcY were safely housed before the 
thunder-storm." 

" Bless her sweet little letter !" exclaimed 
the Squire, as he took it from Maude's 
hand, and put it in his own pocket. 

Archer Neville and his sister had gone 
home again ; and Maude, dreary and forlorn 
without her Lucy, had made up her mind to 
go with her father after the hounds. 

Cecil Erresford had hinted several times, 



LUCY AYLMER. 199 

as they wandered about the grounds after the 
wedding-breakfast, that he did not like the 
stamp of men who usually formed the Ar- 
minster hunt, and that ladies were better 
absent ; but Maude thought he was dictatorial, 
and felt a spirit of opposition to his wishes ; 
and as she. rode the black horse along side 
of her father to the hunt, she had a secret 
hope Cecil would be there to see her spirit 
of independence and fearlessness. It was 
strange — but from the day they had first met, 
she had never liked to yield in any way to 
Cecil. 

A large party met on Dyke Moor, a wild 
open space between Friarsford and the sea. 
There were men of every stamp and age, but 
no lady save the intrepid girl whose proud, 
pawing horse was the theme of general 
admiration. 

To Maude's great amusement, she descried 
on a very spirited hunter her London ac- 
quaintance and admirer. Count Arlais. Where 
he came from, it puzzled Maude to conjecture, 
until he rode up to her side, and explained that 
he was making a sejour vnth. friends at 
Arminster. 



200 LUCY AYLMER. 

Monsieur le Comte seemed disposed to 
keep continually near Maude, and was an 
immense source of entertainment to her ; for 
he knew no more of the management of his 
horse than a child, and it was diverting to 
hear Maude telling him that he must have 
more command over the animal unless he 
wished to find himself in a ditch. 

The Count looked comically terrified, and 
asked if Miss Neville had no fears. Maude 
replied laughingly, " none whatever " — and in- 
deed this was very evident, as her reins hung 
carelessly in her hand, and she looked around 
unconcernedly at the quaint group. Just 
then Cecil Erresford rode up, and in a slightly 
reproachful tone asked : 

" What would Mrs. Aylmer say to see you 
here ?" 

Maude looked at him a moment, and then 
hurst out laughing. 

" I could not in the least imagine whom 
you meant by Mrs. Aylmer ! Lucy never 
dictated to me ; she knew my intention of 
coming. But what do you think of my horse ?" 
she added, quickly. 

" He is a splendid creature ; but I fear you 



LLCY AYLMER. *201 

will have some difficulty in keeping your 
seat." 

"You think all women are cowards !" said 
Maude, disdainfully. 

'' You do me injustice," exclaimed Cecil. 

" Well ! we will not quarrel," repHed 
Maude, merrilv. " I am at the hunt now, 
and intend to go through mth it, at all hazards. 
If you should find me in a ditch, perhaps you 
will kindly stop and help me out." 

Cecil looked at Lucy's loved sister, and 
determined not to leave her to the care of the 
Count, who was looking unutterable things at 
his horse's rearing, and ejaculated : 

" Oh ! mafoi .'" etc. 

" You should give him the rein," exclaimed 
Maude ; "it is a frightfully \icious creature. 
I know where you got him — at Graves' the 
Arminster horse-dealer. How could he momit 
you so iH !" Maude took a great delight in 
augmenting the Count's fears. 

" Oh ! mafoi ! Is it a dangerous country?" 
asked the poor man. 

" Oh ! remarkably so — such awful dykes to 
cross, and hedges and gates to leap. I hope 
you faU hghtly !" 

K 3 



202 LUCY AYLMER. 

The Count looked agonies when all the 
the party moved on, Maude by her father's 
side, the Count keeping close to her for pro- 
tection. Where Cecil Erresford was, Maude 
did not know. They crossed the great hilly 
moor, the dogs running in and out among the 
low brush-wood, Maude watching them with 
eager looks, a bright glow on her cheeks, and 
an expression of merry, mischievous glee in 
her face at the poor Count's ill-management 
of his rearing, prancing steed. Suddenly 
there was a simultaneous shout: the dogs 
had started a fox. Maude gave an exclama- 
tion of dehght, then turning to the Count, 
cried : ^ 

" Now comes the tug of war — mind the 
ditches !" 

Then, after that, Maude entirely forgot every- 
thing but herself, her horse, and the sense of ease 
and freedom which the swift passing through 
the air gave her. She was not at all aware 
when she became parted from her father, nor 
when the Count was thrown against a hedge 
which she had cleared with an almost flying 
leap. She knew there was another horseman by 
her, but turned not to enquire who ; but dashed 



LUCY AYLMER. 203 

on, one of the foremost in precisely such a. 
melee as had passed through the Manor 
grounds, the first day she had seen Cecil 
Erresford. Occasionally a loud, coarse voice 
called out, " Well done !" at some almost 
extraordinary feat of her horsemanship ; but 
she heeded it not, and was too excited to feel 
any resentment. It was not till after seven 
miles' hard riding over rough ground, smooth 
ground and swamp, that as IMaude, with six 
or seven others, came in at the death, she saw 
Cecil Erresford by her side. 

"What ! you here 1" she exclaimed. " I 
imagined we had lost you long ago.'* 

Cecil smiled half incredulously : 

" I have never left you a moment, from the 
time we started till now." He might have 
added : " I followed you for your sister's sake. 
I was near to guard you as our Lucy would 
have had me do." 

" What a helpless child you must think 
me," Maude said, rather pettishly, as she 
tumed her face up to the sky, which all day 
had been lowering, and now was sending 
down large, heavy drops. 



204 LUCY AYLMER. 

"You have not proved yourself helpless," 
was Cecirs quiet reply. 

" What has become of Count Arlais ?" 
Maude exclaimed, quickly turning round. 

" If you wish to know, I will enquire," 
Cecil replied. 

Maude thought Mr. Erresford very pro- 
voking. He was not her brother ! Then why 
should he keep close to her and follow her 
about ? She rode round near her father. 
He had dismounted, and was conversing with 
a little knot of knowing-looking men, with a 
keen expression of countenance totally unlike 
his own. One had a sort of memorandum- 
book in his hand, open, and was talking in a 
determined, though low tone about payments. 
A feeling of misgiving passed quick as light- 
ning through Maude's mind. She could not 
see her father's face; but she noticed the 
impatient movement of his foot, as he moved 
it up and down, and drummed on his boot 
with the hooked handle of his whip ; and she 
thought his voice sounded vexed and angry, 
though the barkings and yelpings of the dogs 
prevented her hearing distinctly what was said. 



LUCY AYLMER. 205 

An angry oath from the httle, puckered-faced 
man with the book caused her quickly to turn 
her horse away, and by a strange impulse to 
look for Cecil. He was not far off, talking to 
Farmer Perkins, who was telling him how 
"that there Frenchman was lodged in the 
first ditch by Wildman's oak." Maude put 
in a word for the Count, and said he was 
badly mounted ; at which the farmer laughed 
good-humouredly, and added : " Fm-reners 
wasn't good for much with horses I" 

Then some of the most important gentle- 
men present rode up, and complimented 
Maude on her excellent command of her 
horse, at the same time presenting her with 
the brush. Just at this juncture, down came 
a pelting shower of rain ; and the Squire, 
with rather a troubled expression on his 
good-humoured face, rode round to Maude's 
side : 

" So I lost sight of you during the sport. 
I see you have carried off the trophy, eh? 
and beat the Frenchman out and out !" 

Maude looked up at her father. He did 
not speak in his usual tone. She noticed an 
excitement about him, and two red spots on 



206 LUCY AYLMER. 

his cheeks ; and the interest he took in the 
comphments his companions in the chase 
paid his daughter, appeared rather forced 
than genuine. After those around them 
had dispersed a Httle, the Squire asked 
Cecil abruptly what he intended to do ? 

" Ride home as fast as I can, now the 
sport is over, and this pelting rain has com- 
menced." 

"I wish you would see Maude home for 
me. Will you, Erresford ?" 

Maude looked appealingly at her father, 
but he went on. "I have an engagement 
to keep with one or two of the fellows 
here." 

" No, come back with me, papa,'' exclaimed 
Maude, who did not like the idea of leaving 
her father with " the fellows" she had seen 
nim with some short time before. 

" Nonsense, Maude," he replied, '' you 
know I never come home till late after a day's 
sport ; now go along both of you, it is no fun 
standing here with all this rain pouring on 
one !" He spoke with a forced cheerfulness, as 
he added, " look out for me at seven, and 
don't take lion's share of the dinner, Missey." 



LUCY ATLMEK. 207 

]\Iaade brought her horse very close to her 
father's, as she almost whispered, " Is there 
anything wrong, dear papa ?" 

" Nonsense, child !" he exclaimed again, 
" what has put such an idea into your head ? 
It is not like you, Maude. Can't I keep ap- 
pointments with my comrades in the field 
without you screwing up your pretty face in 
that manner ? There, make haste home, you 
are keeping your cavaher waiting." 

Cecd had moved away a few paces, and 
Maude joined him in silence. Thus they pro- 
ceeded some distance till every straggling 
huntsman was out of sight. Then Cecil in a 
calm, steady voice said, '* Miss Neville, I have 
something which I wish particularly to say to 
you. 

Maude's heart beat rather quickly : it ap- 
peared so like the beginning of a declaration in 
a novel. What could he mean ? For a moment 
she hesitated what to answer, then thinking 
how strange her silence must appear, she 
rephed in as indifierent a tone as she could 
assume, " What is it, Mr. Erresford ?" 

'' It concerns your father," Cecil began — 
Maude breathed freely again — " I was so 



208 LUCY AYLMEU. 

grieved to see him mixed up with that set of 
scamps to-day ; you cannot possibly tell what 
some of them are. Would not your influence 
keep him from joining them so much ?" 

Maude opened wide her large bright eyes, 
and turning towards Cecil exclaimed, " I 
could not possibly prevent papa from hunting ; 
but surely there is no harm in it ?" 

*' None in the sport. But, Miss Neville, it is 
the set of gamblers who I find, regularly 
frequent the hunt here, that may injure your 
father." He spoke so seriously, that Maude 
felt alarmed, and held her breath while he went 
on, " the coming to-day may not have done 
much harm ; but I fear every time that Mr. 
Neville joins these men, they draw him deeper 
into it." 

" Into what — -betting ? exclaimed Maude. 

" They all do it to an extent, even Sir 
Joseph Fairfield ; but your father who is so 
unsuspecting and open, is often taken in, 
and shamefully imposed upon." 

" I do not understand you," Maude said 
impatiently, " what can I do ?" 

** A great deal," replied Cecil calmly ; 
" you are his only home daughter now% Miss 



LUCY AYLMER. 209 

Neville ; you know how entirely your father's 
heart is given to you ; guide him by his love 
for you ; entice him ; draw him away from 
his companions -, but, as you value your 
father's peace, do not take him to them." 

" You are upbraiding me for this one 
harmless hunt," said Maude, hastily, while 
passionate tears filled her eyes. 

"I have nothing to upbraid you with," 
he repHed, in the same quiet tone in which 
he had been speaking, " and I assure you 
I should not have mentioned one word to 
you of this unfortunate subject, but that I 
believe if any one could save Mr. Neville, 
it would be his daughter." 

''AA^iat am 1 to save my father fi^om ?" 
she asked eagerly. 

"From ruin!" he replied. "I have this 
day discovered how largely your father is in 
debt to some of the men who were amongst 
us just now ; still, though this is the case, 
he can easily be relieved from his embar- 
rassments. But it remains for you to keep 
him from future harm. Oh ! Miss Neville, 
form plans for him — turn his mind to any- 
thing but this rage for the turf!" 



210 LUCY AYLMER. 

Maude's bright, intelligent face wore a 
sad and troubled expression, as she said : 

"It was I who took him there to-day. I 
might have kept him from it — he half pro- 
posed a ride to Arminster. If I had only 
not set my mind on this hateful hunt !" 
then checking her horse so suddenly as to 
make him rear, she exclaimed, " if any harm 
happens to him to-day, it is all my doing — 
I brought him here ! Mr. Erresford, w^e 
must go back and find papa, and take him 
away from these people !" 

She spoke in a decided, almost peremptory 
tone ; and it required all Cecil's persuasions 
to prevent her returning. It was not until 
he had shown her how useless the errand 
would be, as they were unaware of the place 
of appointment, besides her father's probable 
annoyance, that she consented to continue 
her ride home. 

"It is not present interference, but future 
caution," he said, as they rode fast on again 
through the dreary country bordering Dyke 
Moor. 

" This is the first day's pleasure that has 
ended unhappily," Maude said, in a gloomy 



LUCY AYLMER. 211 

tone, "1 knew everything would go wrong 
directly Lucy went !" Maude found herself 
talking quite confidentially to Cecil without 
knowing the reason. 

" Your sister could not have helped this/' 
he said, kindly, " no doubt you will miss her 
influence ; but you will not believe I think 
less of Mrs. Aylmer, because 1 say that you 
alone can do more than you both to- 
gether." 

" How ?" exclaimed Maude. 

" Because your father will look upon you 
now as his own peculiar charge, while you 
had your sister with you, it was diiferent. 
Now he will not wish you to be solitary, and 
would, I think, be induced to give up much 
for your home happiness." 

" And I shaU seem selfish," replied 
Maude. 

" Selfish for a good purpose," Cecil 
remarked. 

Maude sighed, and was silent for some 
time, reproaching herself for having taken 
her father to the hunt, and brought him 
among those from whom he ought to with- 
draw: the little dark man ^yiih the book 



212 LUCY AYLMER. 

haunted her. If papa owes to him , there will 
be no mercy, she thought — she had forgotten 
her companion entirely in her self-accusation, 
when a gleam of light broke through the 
dark clouds. " We shall have sunshine yet," 
exclaimed Cecil; then noticing the troubled 
expression on Maude's countenance, he added, 
" I am sorry to have made you anxious ; 
your father's present difficulties can easily be 
removed." 

" Poor papa ! I am sure he does not deserv^e 
to have cares," replied Maude ; "no one 
knows half his goodness except Lucy and 
myself." 

" Your father possesses universal respect," 
Cecil remarked in a cheerful tone ; " every 
one among his companions to-day, except 
those low fellows, would come forward to say 
any good word for him." 

" Ah ! but that is very different from home 
appreciation," said Maude, with a sigh. 

" Being loved and understood in one's 
home circle is indeed delightful," rephed 
Cecil : "it is far preferable to a tumult of 
external applause." 

" That is what Lucy always says/' ex- 



LUCY AYLMER. 213 

claimed Maude. '' Oh there is a sunbeam ! 
Cannot we slacken our horses' pace ?" 

Cecil instantly reined in his horse, saying, 
" I have been indeed forgetful of you. Miss 
Neville; and now you are tired." 

" No, not exactly, only the stirrup hurts 
my foot." 

In one minute, Cecil was off his horse, and 
altered her stirrup. " Is that better ?" he 
asked. '' I am sure you must have been very 
uncomfortable all day." 

"Rather twisted my ancle felt, but you 
have made it quite right now." Maude 
never could persevere in any determination to 
dishke Cecil : he was as patient and perfectly 
amiable as Lucy. Maude considered him al- 
most too amiable ; and Cecil, as he rode along, 
thought what a fine, spirited creature Maude 
was, only wanting a little ray from Lucy to 
make her perfect — not as her sister; but 
perfect next to Lucy. 

When Cecil left Maude safe at the Manor, 
she went directly up to her own room, and 
sat down on her bed-side in her torn, muddy 
habit, which the last hour's sun had dried 
into stiff folds. Maude gazed at the other 



214 LUCY ATLMER. 

little bed with its green curtains, and burst 
into tears. *' Oh Lucy, I knew I should do 
wrong without you !" she exclaimed, " and 
now I may be papa's ruin. Oh, that hateful 
hunt !" Poor Maude ! her mind conjured up 
all sorts of dreadful things happening to her 
beloved father. Duels — overwhelming debts, 
imprisonment for non-payment — and number- 
less smaller woes, and^all seemed her own 
doing. She worked herself up into quite a 
fever of remorse and excitement, until worn 
out W'ith fatigue of mind and body, she laid 
down on her bed and fell asleep. She did 
not know how long she had rested, wdien she 
awoke up suddenly, and heard some one call- 
ing ." Miss Maude !" 

" Is anything the matter ? It is quite 
dark 1" she exclaimed, starting to her 
feet. 

" It is ten o'clock, Miss, and master has 
come home, and he won't have any dinner ; 
and Morris says something is amiss. For 
master do look so onlike hisself !" 

" Bring a candle, Susan, how silly of you 
to come up in the dark !" Maude said hastily, 
then pressing her hand to her head, she ex- 



LUCY ATLMER. 215 

claimed, " Oh dear, poor me ! what would 
Lucy say, if she w^ere only here to comfort 
papa !" By the time the slow Susan re- 
turned Tvith a light, Maude had taken oflP her 
habit and groped her way into the first dress 
she could find, which happened to be an old 
cotton one. " There, hold the candle to the 
glass, Susan. I declare I have not a shade 
of colour !" and hastily smoothing her hair, 
Maude dashed past Susan and ran doT\Ti to 
her darling father. 

Morris had made a fire in the dining-room, 
and the Squire was leaning over it. He 
started when Maude came in. " Why, my 
old girl," he said, "they told me you were 
asleep !" He spoke cheerfully : but his face 
as she approached, looked perplexed and 
worried. 

"I am quite awake now, papa," she said, 
as she rested her hand on his shoulder, and 
looked anxiously at him. 

He drew her down on his knee in silence, 
and turned his head away. 

" Papa !" Maude exclaimed eagerly, "I am 
your only home one now, and you must let 
me share all your troubles; though you do 



216 LUCY AYLMER. 

call me ' giddy head' sometimes, I can be 
steady when I try. Mr. Erresford warned 
me against going to the hunt. Has anything 
happened there to harm you ? Oh ! papa, tell 
me ?" she turned his face towards her, and 
kissed him tenderly. 

"What is it all about, Missey, eh?" he 
asked. " Erresford ! what has he been 
doing ? Why you were sworn enemies a short 
time ago ?" 

" Don't think of me, papa. I am often very 
foolish ; talk about yourself. I saw those 
men — oh! papa, have they made you lose very 
very much ?" 

He looked earnestly at her, for a moment. 
There was something in her face that said, 
secrets are vain. He drew her head down on 
his shoulder and said in a low, husky voice : 
"Maude, my own, I have pretty nearly 
ruined you !" 

Maude left her head where he had placed 
it, as she asked, " Is it very much, papa ?" 

" Three thousand pounds — there, you 
know all !" he said, with a sort of groan. " It 
is an old score ;" he continued, as if by way 
of excuse. " I began after your mother died. 



LUCY AYLMER. 217 

to drown grief, and I have been getting deeper 
in it ever since. The fellow was there to-day 
— he is going off to America and wants his 
spoil : it must be all paid down by this day 
week/' 

Mciude sprang to her feet, a flush of pride 
suffusing her beautiful face. " Papa !" she 
exclaimed, " you can sell the Manor, and then 
I can work for you till we win it back !" 

" My poor good darling !" the Squire said 
in a stifled voice. 

There was something in his words, that 
was more than Maude could bear : she 
sank down on the floor at her father's feet, 
and hid her face on his knee. " Papa, darling 
papa ! it was all my doing — I took you there !" 
she gasped in tones of the most heartfelt 
distress. 

In an instant the Squire was roused; " Why, 
queen Maude 1" he exclaimed, " what is all 
this ? Why we are making a couple of fools of 
ourselves for nothing ! we can patch this 
business up after all — T dare say. Come, I 
cannot have you spoil your beautiful eyes with 
all these tears !" He lifted her gently up and 

VOL. II. L 



218 LUCY AYLMER. 

laid her on the sofa by the fire. " Why 
Maude, my beauty, you have got hands like 
stones, and such a pale face ! Now I dare 
say you have not had any dinner, if the truth 
was known ? And it was your first hunt too, 
and no one to praise you or your horse !" 

Maude tried to smile between her gasping 
sobs, which only made her worse. 

The Squire told her she was a naughty 
child, and taking up from the fender a great 
joram of brandy and water prepared for him- 
self, sat on the edge of the sofa and fed her 
with spoonsful. 

" Well, I did think Maude was a woman, 
but I declare she is a worse baby than Lucy ! 
There now, you have got a shade of colour in 
those cheeks !" 

Maude's sobs were becoming less and less ; 
presently she raised herself up, and tlirowing 
an arm over her father's neck, said, " Papa, 
will he not allow any delay ?" 

"There, don't be foolish," replied the 
Squire, pretending to be angiy, and laying her 
dov^ai again. "I'll tell you what I will do : a 
thought has struck me, I think it is a bright 



LUCY AYLMER. 219 

one. I will ask Uncle Archer ; he is a trump 
of a saving fellow — and he will lend me the 
money to pay that old fool; and then I'll 
begin again, and make a model after all ! an 
old Cecil Erresford, eh, Maude ?" 

" But will Uncle Archer, papa ?" Maude 
asked anxiously. 

" Lor bless you ! why Maude, he would 
have advanced me as much for the repairs of 
this house, only I would not let him. But I 
should like to know who put all this stuff into 
your head. Erresford I suppose — if so, he is a 
medlar, a bad fruit that 1" 

" Oh, papa, I saw it myself. That dreadful 
man with a book !" 

" Pshaw ! you dreamt about it ! Never mind, 
perhaps it is all for the best, I shall be a new 
man when once T have got out of the old 
rascal's clutches. I will settle down into an 
old jog-trot fellow, and look after my pretty 
daughter, till some one comes to carry her off ! 
Ha, queen Maude ! what do you say to being 
Mrs. Erresford, it would not be bad — would 
it?" 

Maude laughed — " No chance, papa ! model 
men require model wives." 

L 2 



220 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Then you shall reform as well as I, and 
then you'll be fit for him. No, you shall not 
though, you shall be saucy Maude, always — 
model men always choose contraries." 

" I think I shall stay with you, papa, and be 
a model old maid !" 

"Ho ! I dare say," laughed the Squire. " I 
should like to see that !" 

" We shall see, papa, now let me get up. 
My folly has blown over — and please eman- 
cipate me from that horrid stuff." 

" You don't like my medicine eh ?" said the 
Squire. "Well since you are a good girl 
again, I will let you off any more. Only lie 
still, and do as you are told !" 

Maude obeyed, and her eyes followed her 
father as he slowly pulled a table to tlie fire, and 
covered it from the dining-table where Morris 
had laid some refreshment. Maude laughed 
at her father's awkwardness, but he would not 
allow her to help him ; and when he had com- 
pleted all his preparations, Maude and her 
father had a supper together, by the August 
fire, and cheerfully discussed their first trouble 
two days after Lucy's wedding. 

Thus joy and sorrow are mingled together — 



LUCY AYLMER. 221 

sometimes one is upwards, then the other, 
but this scarcely appeared Hke trouble then — 
it only seemed to bring forth greater love in 
father and child. 



222 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER X. 

His unexhausted mine the sordid vice 

Avarice shows, and virtue is the price. 

Her various motives his ambition raise — 

PoVr, pomp and splendour, and the thirst of praise. 

COWPEE. 

Maude awoke the morning after the hunt 
with the dreary, oppressive sense of something 
weighing upon her mind ; it was some minutes 
before she collected her thoughts sufficiently 
to remember the events of the previous day, 
but when, at length, they crowded upon her, 
it was with a feeling of self-upbraiding — she 
dressed hastily and joined her father, who was 
that morning going to start for London. 
Maude begged hard to be allowed to 
accompany him; but the Squire refused, 
sapng in his usual joking manner, that he 



LUCY AYLMER. 223 

would begin economy at once. Maude 
sighed and wondered silently how long the 
economy system would last. It seemed to her 
as if the cares of life were beginning, and she 
had always fancied that they would never 
come near her. Why did they visit her 
now? 

In one thing both the Squire and Maude 
agreed ; they were glad their darhng Lucy 
bad married before any trouble had visited 
them; and it was the Squire's opinion that 
now she was no longer a home bird, she 
ought not to hear any of the home anxieties. 
Maude entirely acquiesced in this — neither 
the Squire nor herself was selfish. 

London looked drear and void as the Squire 
entered it in a railway cab that evening. 
Whole streets of houses had their shutters 
closed, while the windows that were open 
only revealed curtains and walls carefully 
covered. Instead of bustle and noise, scarcely 
a carriage was to be seen ; cabs and omnibuses 
seemed to reign alone. The shop windows 
had a dowdy, careless appearance; rejected 
fashions were exhibited to catch inexperienced 
eyes ; shopmen idled at the doors ; while the 



224 LUCY AYLMER. 

owners made holidays and played the country 
gentlemen at their villas ornees, a few miles 
off the stones. In short, London was out 
of town. 

Mr. Neville had never before been in the 
metropolis at such a season, and he grumbled 
to himself it was "precious dull;" and he 
told Archer something to that effect when 
he reached the house in May-Fair, where the 
inhabitants were still in existence, Archer 
professing to have business which detained 
him in town. 

Miss Neville and Archer were not a Httle 
surprised at the arrival of their country 
brother; and Augusta instantly enquired if 
anything were the matter with Lucy. The 
Squire replied, Lucy was all right, they had 
heard from her the previous day, and for 
ought he knew there might have been another 
letter this morning, only he could not wait 
for the post. 

Augusta then made pleasant comments on 
the wedding, and asked how Maude got on 
without her sister ? 

" Poor old Maude ! I am afraid she is rather 
dull !" replied the Squire. 



LUCY ATLMER. 225 

"I do not think she finds the Ladies 
Erresford very companionable," remarked 
Augusta. 

" Well, no ! Mora is Lucy's pet, and Lady 
Anne is nobody's. She thinks of nothing but 
the schools now, and poor Plora gives herself 
up to pining away. I never did see such a 
girl! that wan long face of hers and 
weary step predict a decline— they had better 
mind, or they will lose her sooner than they 
expect." 

x^rcher checked a rising look of alarm, as 
he said in a cool tone. 

"It is not disease ; you may rely it is the 
mind that has caused the change. That affair 
with Lord Glendowan, combined with the 
Countess's unnatural, chilling conduct, have 
been too much for her. But time will effect a 
cure ; the youthful mind soon recovers its 
natural elasticity." 

" Yes !" remarked Augusta, " Lady Plora's 
mind being occupied with something new, 
will cease to dwell on the past ?" 

"Well, I don't pretend to be medically 
learned," repHed the Squire ; " but outward 

L 3 



226 LUCY AYLMER. 

looks are often a true index to the 
case." 

"And outward appearances are often de- 
ceptive," observ^ed Archer turning away, 
" witness the bloom sometimes accompanying 
pulmonary complaints. Lady Flora has no- 
thing of the kind." 

He looked out of the window, and ardently 
wished for Sir Edgar's death, that he might 
claim his bride. 

It was not till dinner was ended, and 
Augusta had left her brothers over their 
wine, to return to her solitary drawing- 
rooms, that the Squire mentioned the object 
of his sudden visit. 

" Archer, my old fellow !" he began, some- 
what abruptly, " I want you to help me." 

The lawyer brother leant back in his .chair, 
folded his arms, over his chest, and looking 
with steady eye at the country brother, 
replied, in measured tones : 

" I shall be very glad to do so, though, of 
course, 1 am sorry you should require assist- 
ance." 

" Well !" continued the Squire frankly, " the 



LUCY AYLMER. Z2 i 

fact is — and I won't hide it — I have been 
rather extravagant. This world will not always 
go quite smoothly with us. It has its ups and 
downs; and at present I am in the downs. 
Three thousand, Archer — that's the extent of 
the rub, and only one week to pay it in." 

The Squire here drank off a glass of claret, 
as if to fortify himself against the expected 
answer. 

It came, slowly, and with almost irritating 
distinctness. 

"One week, that is a short time — still it 
must be done. And to whom is the sum 
due?" 

"To a man named Stubbs, an Arminster 
fellow ; talks of going over to Brother Jona- 
than next week. I should say England is 
too hot for him." 

" I see," said Archer, with a gleam of 
satisfaction beneath his cool gaze. " This 
man is one of a set — a roguish set of knaves 
who frequent the hunting-field; and he has 
got you in his clutches. I can get you out 
once, Phil ; but I cannot do it again. I have 
been a saving man ; but I am not rich — far 
from it." 



228 LUCY AYLMER. 

Squire Neville thought his brother ought 
to be a rich man to keep up that fine house ; 
but he believed Archer implicitly, and looked 
upon the fiiie house as something of the 
mysterious that kept itself. And the hand- 
some plate on the sideboard kept itself ; and 
the rich wines in the cellar kept themselves ; 
as did the two carriages and eight servants 
— unsuspecting, overcredulous Squire ! so 
easily led, so easily deceived 1 

" I would not wish you to be involved in 
difficulties. Archer, old boy, on any account, 
still less on mine," the Squire said. 

" You could give me security for the loan, 
I suppose ?" Archer asked, in an indifferent 
tone. 

" There is the Manor," replied the country 
brother. " That is all I have got. Let it be 
a mortgage on that if you like — say ten years, 
and I will pay you whatever interest you 
please." 

The lawyer brother paused a moment, then 
answered in his usual calm manner : 

*' Is it not a risk? — Think of your 
children." 

" Well, what am I to do ?" said the Squire, 



LUCY AYLMER. 229 

rather impatiently. " What other security 
can I give ? No one would be answerable for 
a hair-brained fellow like me." 

Archer smiled. 

" Ten to one but you will be in the same 
mess three years hence, Phil." 

" We shall see !" ejaculated the Squire, 
good-humouredly. " Never too late to mend, 
Sir." 

" True," replied Archer ; " but late reforms 
are rather difficult things to build upon." 

" Ha ! Sir Prudent ! you think old fools 
less hopeful than young ones." The Squire 
laughed. 

" Oh ! don't say that. Nil desperandum — 
not even of betting Phil Neville," replied his 
brother. 

The Squire stretched his hand across the 
table, and gave Archer's a hearty squeeze. 

*' You are a trump. Archer. I never saw 
your equal yet. " 

" That is because you have seen so little of 
the world," said the lawyer brother, with a 
slight mixture of compassion and patronage 
in his voice. 

" Lor ! I have seen enough of it anyhow," 



230 LUCY AYLMER. 

replied the Squire ; " and I think it is a rum 
concern — good and bad all hatched together." 

"Triie," acquiesced Archer, coldly. 

" I am sure there is no need to go farther 
than our neighbours at the Castle," the 
Squire went on, forgetting all about the 
question of the loan. " If ever there was a 
family with variety of character, it is there. 
The mother is all pride, yet good and neigh- 
bourly. There's the elder daughter all cant ; 
and the younger, as submissive and unhappy 
as a forsaken wife ! and then there are the 
sons : one an idiot, or pretty like it, from all I 
hear ; and the other as noble a fellow as ever 
set foot on earth. There's the world for you 
in one house !" 

Archer did not reply ; but, turning his eagle 
eyes towards the sideboard, rose and fetched 
from thence a bottle of port 

" Why there's lots on the table, man !" 
ejaculated the Squire. 

" I know," replied Archer coldly, " but I 
want you to try this." 

The Squire was effectually tied down for a 
while to the respective merits of divers kinds 
of wine, and when a half hour or so had been 



LUCY AYLMER. 231 

spent in sage comments on the colour and 
value &c., &c., and tasting the red beverage 
before them, Augusta, weary of admiring her 
hands, and trying divers attitudes on divers 
ottomans, sent to summon her brothers to 
tea. 

The evening being rather cool, Augusta 
wore a claret-coloured velvet dress and pearl 
ornaments, and looked oppressively handsome. 
But the Squire, though he considered his 
sister the queen of women, yet thought his 
Lucy in her simple, country dress, with no 
ornaments, save the goodness that shone in 
her face, more beautiful. 

Archer thought, as Augusta poured out the 
tea with her diamond glistering fingers, that 
he would not wish his wife like her. He could 
not then have always the upper hand, and yet 
he did not like to hear people talk of Flora as 
being so submissive and humbled. How he 
longed for Sir Edgar's death ! and by-and-by, 
so occupied was he with his wish, that he left 
his splendid sister to entertain the Squire, and 
taking up his hat, walked to Grosvenor Place, 
and gently ringing a bell, made inquiries after 
Sir Edgar. The Baronet was sufiering under 



232 LUCY AYLMER. 

an attack of rheumatism and gout combined ; 
and Archer was very hopeful — the servant's 
face increased his hopes — and the servant's 
words were better still — his master had not 
slept since yesterday, and one of his physicians 
had given him up. 

Archer looked very dolorous, and left his card, 
and his sympathy for my Lady, who burnt the 
card, and smiled scornfully at the sympathy. 
It was an empty sounding word, from a man 
who had drawn out the will and witnessed the 
signature that would make him heir to her 
dying husband's darling wealth. 

But Archer knew not her Ladyship's 
thoughts, nor cared what they were. He went 
to his club, and wrote his wife a hopeful letter, 
which she fetched from Friarsford, and cried 
over. 

While the mail was conveying solace to 
the poor wife's sad heart, her husband mag- 
nanimously put his brother in possession of 
the three thousand, and received a bond with 
the Squire's own honest signature affixed, a 
bond that Archer locked in his safest iron box. 
After so many years of longing and anxiety 
was he master of a document which in all 



LUCY AYLMER. 233 

probability, ten years hence, would give him 
the coveted Manor ; for he was sure that now 
his brother had once begun to borrow, he 
would continue doing so until he had received 
the full value of the property ; and the interest 
was so good that Archer was in every way the 
gainer. So his desires were fast fulfilling ; he 
had won his titled wife, with her rank and 
property ; and now he waited anxiously for Sir 
Edgar's death, and then his proud hopes 
would be all realized. 

How the Squire was to repay his brother, 
would have puzzled another man ; but honest 
Phil Neville imagined a few years' economy 
would do it ; and he returned home content 
with the result of his journey ; paid his debts ; 
and began to play the domestic man by 
endeavouring to assist Maude in the arrange- 
ment of Lucy's books at the vicarage, thereby 
considerably retarding her progress. Maude 
was very glad to have her father with her, in 
spite of his awkward attempts at assistance, 
for she dreaded him again meeting his former 
associates. She sighed when she thought of 
ten years hence; but it was along time to come, 
and she hoped that ere then, they would be 



234 LUCY AYLMER. 

able to pay the debt, and save the dear old 
Manor, her father's home, and her own. Maude 
thought her Uncle might as well have lent the 
required money without taking their all as a 
security. She was learning something new, 
she had learnt now what a mortgage was ; but 
she did not know the avarice that had prompted 
it. 

Meanwhile Archer's drooping wife con- 
tinued unchanged. Her family had become 
accustomed to her melancholy moods, and 
heeded them not. The only thing that seemed 
to amuse her now, was wool-work, which 
carried her so often to the fancy shop at Friars- 
ford. The Countess little guessed the real 
object concealed beneath the repeated purchase 
of the various kinds of wool. Who could 
have imagined the secret correspondence she 
carried there, in answer to Archer's letters ad- 
dressed in a disguised hand to " Lady Flora 
Erresford." Oh ! how she longed for the time 
to come when she might proclaim her rightful 
name ! 

Old Mrs. Field, who stamped the letters, 
made comment what a good niece Miss Maude 
was, to write so often to Mr. Archer. It was 



LUCY AYLMER. 235 

very pretty of her ! to which her " gude man " 
repHed — " Ah ! she is the right sort of young 
lady !" 

No one said the same of Flora: she was 
too completely absorbed in herself, and her 
own miseries, to have a thought of gaining 
other love than Archer's. 

Again Sir Edgar recovered from an illness 
which all around him thought would prove fatal. 
A few days before Lucy's wedding, the long- 
delayed will had been at length made, and 
Archer's uncertainty came to an end. Sir 
Edgar's name and property were to descend to 
the grasping lawyer. The former. Archer would 
willingly have dispensed with ; but finding it 
inseparable from the latter, he raised no ob- 
jections, and thus usurped the place Robert 
ought rightfully to have occupied, and for 
which his uncle had formerly destined him. 
Lady Tyrrell's disapprobation of the step her 
husband had taken, was great. The landed 
property, consisting of several estates was to be 
hers; but Sir Edgar had all his life-time 
resolved to leave his funded property to some 
relative, on condition of his taking his name. 
Now Robert Aylmer was his nearest relation, 



236 LUCY AYLMER. 

and consequently had the greatest claim upon 
him. But Sir Edgar had taken a dislike to 
him in his youth ; which dislike, was of later 
years fostered by his godson, Archer Neville, 
whom, at length, the Baronet determined on 
making his heir. Lady Tyrrell would rather 
that heir had been any one than Archer, but 
her wishes in behalf of Robert and Mildred 
were in vain. It was Archer who devoted 
himself to the fretful old man's every whim. 
It was Archer who remained in town when 
the season was over to be near Sir Edgar ; 
and it was Archer alone who had any influ- 
ence over him. 

" We shall have you a great man some 
day. Archer," Sir Edgar said one evening. 
"I only hope I may live to see you in Par- 
liament." 

Archer wished ardently Sir Edgar might 
not have tliat happiness, but hypocritically 
expressed earnest desires that Sir Edgar might 
yet have strength and health to harangue the 
House. 

" No, no, old boy ! my days are over for 
that sort of thing. I was a leading man in 
my time, and now you must take my place. 



LUCY ATLMER. 237 

Next election, we must have you on the 
hustings for Arminster ; you ought to get 
plenty of votes — you a Foisted man !" 

"That depends on Mr. Neville's views," 
said Lady TyiTell. 

"There will be all our interest, Sarah," 
said Sir Edgar complacently, " and then 
there's the Squire and the De Walden family ; 
oh ! and lots I could beat up !" 

" Sir Edgar," remarked his godson mth 
a bland smile, "you could not expect of 
me the same success you have expe- 
rienced ?" 

" I expect great things of you, and so does 
all the world. We look to you to become one 
of the leading men of our day." 

Archer bowed, " My dear Sir, you do me 
great honour." 

" The name deserves great things. Three 
generations of Tyrrells have sat in ParHament, 
without having the wealth to support them, 
which I shall leave you." 

" There is no blessing on wealth unless it 
is well used," Lady Tyrrell said shortly. 

" Ah ! you were thinking of your favourite, 
Glendowan. He certainly employs his money 



238 LUCY AYLMER. 

to some purpose ! What a fine fellow that is !" 
said Sir Edgar. 

" Excellent member of society !" acquiesced 
Archer. 

" He has been sadly disappointed though. 
It is a pity ladies don't know their own minds 
better — " Sir Edgar grumbled. 

"Lady Elora is a most strange person," 
observed Lady Tyrrell. 

" She makes it the business of her life to 
be miserable, and cultivate doleful looks. I 
never saw such a long, woe-begone face as 
hers !" said Sir Edgar. 

Archer felt the words, " You old rascal !" 
on his lips at the mention of his wife's name, 
but turned the expression into one of excuse 
for Lady Elora, pleading her health as the 
most likely cause for her melancholy ap- 
pearance. 

Sir Edgar said she was of a sour disposi- 
tion ; while Lady Tyrrell suggested a probable 
fancy for some one without the reach of the 
Countess's consent, and her own rank of life. 
Nothing but this Lady Tyrrell felt sure would 
have induced her to break off with Lord 
Glendowan. 



LUCY AYLMER. 239 

" Well, whatever it is, I only hope she 
will not make a runaway marriage, for of all 
abominable things, I think that is the worst. 
You agree with me, Archer ? Most trying to a 
gii'Fs family !" 

" Very much so," said the politic Ar- 
cher. 

" We must look out for an heiress for you," 
said Sir Edgar. " Lady Julia Rich has a 
handsome daughter, thu-ty thousand in the 
way." 

" I am afraid Miss Rich has liigher preten- 
sions," replied Archer modestly. 

" Come, I must have you think more of 
yourself. Miss Rich would be just the thing ; 
her mother is of noble blood, but her 
father a commoner in your profession. We will 
introduce you by-and-by, eh, Sarah ?" 

" Miss Rich, my dear Sir Edgar, is engaged 
already to one of the Mortimers." 

" Bother the girl !" exclaimed Sir Edgar 
impatiently, " what do you say to Lady Anne 
Erresford ? Lots of money there ?" 

" Lady Anne is too austere for me," said 
his godson. " I think her life is devoted to the 
chm'ch." 



240 LUCY AYLMER. 

" More fool she ! I will not give you that 
sister of hers : she is no fit wife for a rising 
man like you, a poor lack-a-daisical, whimsical 
girl, she Avould fall in love with you one day, 
and refuse you the next ! Lor ! why there 
are heiresses by the dozen, if we could only 
hit on the right one !" 

*' You must let me give up matrimony for 
the present. I must get my sister off first." 

" Was there ever such a devoted brother \" 
Sir Edgar said, when Archer was gone ; to 
which Lady Tyrrell gave short and quick 
answer, " I am convinced he would make a 
very bad husband.'' 

" He would teach his wife not to interfere 
in her husband's concerns," said Sir Edgar 
surlily. 

" If he did not teach her to hate him," 
her Ladyship replied, rising with a half- 
checked sigh. 



LUCY AYL3IER. 241 



CHAPTER XL 

Cathrina. Hast thou ne'er heard the story of Count Hugo, 
His ancestor, who slew the hunter knight ? 
Orra {eagerly). Tell it, I pray thee. 

* * * * 

Tell it Cathrina, for the life within me 
Beats thick, and stirs to hear it. 

JOANNA BAILLIE. 

A SIGHING, howling wind hovered around 
the walls of Castle St. Agnes on a November 
evening. The fire burnt low in the grate, 
and long shadows fell on the Ubrary floor. 
Lady Flora, Lucy Aylmer, and Maude sat 
close around the hearth. Lucy had a cushion 
on the rug, that she might see by the fire- 
light the thick grey comforter she was 
knitting for Robert's Christmas present, 

VOL. II. M 



242 LUCY AYLMER. 

which was to be accompanied by a pair of 
mufFatees of the same colour. Maude was 
making paper matches out of old letters. 
Lady Flora held the old letters in her lap, 
and did nothing but sit dreamily looking at 
the coals. Presently the door opened. Lucy 
instantly concealed her work under Lady 
Flora's apron, then withdrew it w^ith a 
happy, bright little laugh that sounded 
pleasantly on Cecil Erresford's ears as he 
entered the room. 

" Secrets going on here ?" he asked, as 
Maude made room for him by the fire. 

" Yes ! and if we allow you to remain, you 
must promise not to betray them. Our good 
little wife is making a secret comforter for 
her husband." 

They all laughed at Maude's droll manner 
of expressing herself. 

" I do not imagine the ' secret comforter ' 
maker can see ;" Cecil said, poking the log 
that now burnt low, in the vain effort of 
provoking a bright flame. All the log did, 
however, was to throw sparks in their faces, 
and then relapse into greater darkness in a 
revengeful way. Lucy drew her cushion 



LUCY AYLMER. 243 

away from the centre of the rug, and 
estabhshed herself in a corner at Lady Flora's 
feet with her hand on her lap. 

" The ' secret comforter ' has removed her- 
self and her mission," Cecil said. " Mrs. 
Aylmer, would you not like a light ? I will 
make an ilhimination with the candles on 
the mantel-piece until something better 
arrives." 

" Pray do not !" exclaimed J\Iaude, " oh ! 
Mr. Erresford, you are spoiling our cosi- 
ness ! 

" Cecil, this is such a soothing light. Do 
not break it," added his sister. 

"The 'secret comforter' shall be our arbi- 
trator," replied Cecil, holding up a match he 
had stolen from Maude's heap, and lighting 
it, he exclaimed, " Mrs. Aylmer, to be or 
not ?" 

" Oh, not decidedly !" said Lucy laughing. 

Cecil threw the match into the fire, Maude 
declaring it was a " horrid waste !" Just 
then, a shriek of wind danced along. Maude 
said, she was certain all the ghosts were 
out that night, and that the furies were 
holding a soiree ! 

M 2 



244 LUCY AYLMER. 

" That reminds me," exclaimed Lucy sud- 
denly, "it is nearly a year ago now, since 
you promised Flora and me, the ghost's story 
connected with Flora's turret. Do you not 
remember, Mr. Erresford ?" 

" I believe I do," replied Cecil, " but 
recollect it is very shocking, and requires 
nerve, or rather, properly speaking, no 
nerves." 

" Oh ! we have none here !" said Maude, 
charmed at the prospect of a ghost's story, 
the delight of her childish days. 

" Flora and I will compose ours — will we 
not. Flora ?" said Lucy. 

" Yes ! for I ought to know the legend of 
my turret. Sit down, Cecil, and begin ; it 
is just the night." 

" Yes !" added Lucy, coaxingly, " you told 
us that evening, there was too much hght, 
and no howling winds. And there are darkness 
and wind enough now." 

Cecil drew his chair in among the little 
group as he said : " The idea of a sage 
personage like Mrs. Aylmer taking an in- 
terest in ghosts !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 245 

" What would the parson say ?" asked 
Maude, slyly. 

*' That we ought to have reserved it until 
he arrived," repUed Lucy, with a pretty 
colour on her fair face. 

" The Church would denounce me as a 
wizard,'' said Cecil; "no, fair lady, in the 
ears of the laity alone is my history to be 
unfolded." 

Maude jumped up and locked the door. 

" Come begin !" she exclaimed. 

" Begin what ?" said Cecil. " To tell how 
some two years back those steep stairs were 
seldom mounted ; and except when some ser- 
vant, more daring than the rest, unlocked the 
heavy door, and removed the long collected 
dust ; silence reigned supreme in the Ghost's 
Turret ! Yes, that is its name, truly a 
gloomy one, and gloomy sounds are heard 
there too. All the wailing winds rushing 
from the northern realms, sigh and groan 
around the rough stone walls, crumbled 
and worn by those warring blasts, and the 
door creaks, and the narrow windows flap 
in wild fury. In such nights as this, are 
ghosts said to come forth, and servants 



246 LUCY AYLMER. 

refuse to ascend the stairs unaccompanied, 
and the Lady of the Studio alone is fear- 
less." 

Cecil paused and looked around. Lucy had 
linked her hands both together on Lady Flora's 
lap — her fair head rested on them, and a child- 
ish, wonder-loving look was on her face. Flora 
had an arm around her ; a glimmer of light 
flickered over her pale countenance ; and 
her large, soft eyes were fixed in anxious 
attention on her brother. Maude's bright 
face had a half-laughing, half-frightened ex- 
pression. She had ceased twisting her long 
matches, and her eyes gazed on the white, 
charred end of the log, resting half out 
of the fire. 

There was such profound attention, and 
such profound silence, that Cecil was fain 
to commence at once the legend of the 
'' Ghost's Turret." 

" A strange, weird tale was connected 
years gone by with Flora's turret," he be- 
gan, in mysterious tones, " wild and fear- 
ful to hear, and yet each guest at Castle 
St. Agnes learnt it ; aye, and was visited 
by it in his dreams. It was related that 



LUCY AYLMER. 247 

in the early part of the reign of King John, 
the third Earl De Walden had an only 
daughter, fair and innocent, and very lovely 
to look upon— insomuch that her eyes weve 
like violets in their softness, and her cheeks 
like the wild rose that grows by the hill-side. 

"The Earl, her father, was an imperious, 
overbearing man, said, by report, to have 
sent his wife to her grave, and his son to 
ruin by his tyranny — but let rumour rest 
in peace. He told the world he loved his 
Sybil, and the world gave heed to his 
voice. Yet, though he lavished fair and 
costly jewels and briUiant attire on his 
daughter, her young life was not happy, 
and she looked forward to the time of 
marriage as a time of release from 
her father's gloomy castle, and his 
stern, proud bearing. But the Earl des- 
tined it otherwise. Two persons loved the 
ladye of St. Agnes ; the one, a young Knight, 
handsome, noble — but poor — to him she gave 
her heart. The other was a noble, already the 
age of her father with nought to recom- 
mend him but that he was rich and power- 
ful. He sued the Earl de Walden for the 



248 LUCY AYLMER. 

hand of his daughter and did not sue in 
vain. The noble father promised him the 
Ladye Sybil with lands and dower ; but he 
could not give the ladye's heart, for though 
he knew it not, Knight Amyas of the 
Cross held that already. He had carried 
it with him to the Holy Wars, and on the 
day Earl Nevis held council respecting the 
Ladye Sybil — the young Knight rode with 
his esquire into the paved court of her father's 
castle. Great was, the anger of the Earl of 
St. Agnes, when he learnt his daughter's 
secret vows. He summoned her from her 
bower to his vaulted hall ; and there, in the 
presence of the young knight, gave her in 
betrothal to the Earl Nevis. Anguish and 
terror struck the lady's heart, and she swooned 
away. Her bower damsels were summoned, 
and herself carried from tlie armed presence. 
Then had the St. Agnes retainers orders to 
conduct Knight Amyas over the drawbridge ; 
and the Earl breathed a mighty oath, that did 
he venture again within the walls, his blood 
should pay the price of his rashness. 

" Loud and bitterly laughed the knight ; and 
his trumpet blew a shrill and menacing blast. 



LUCY AYLMER. 24^ 

as his good steed bore him away to the 
Dorset hills, where his poor Keep stood. 
Three suns rose and the lady wept sore in her 
bower, and her maidens found no comfort 
for her ; on the fourth day, she desired to see 
her priest, and unto him she made full con- 
fession of her griefs ; and her concluding words 
were, ' Holy Father, help me !' 

" Then the venerable churchman's heart 
pondered within him, for he loved the maiden 
as a daughter; but he went from her presence 
in silence. Then sorer than ever was her 
heart, for another sunrise and yet another — 
and the final vows w^ere to be pronounced, 
and Earl Nevis would carry her to his castle on 
the borders of the sea. 

" 'Twas midnight ; the warders slept ; when 
forth stole the priest with the ladye by his 
side, bound for St. Winifred's Keep, the 
strong-hold of Sir Amyas, who with his 
trusty followers, met them at the postern, 
then into the chapel in procession they 
repaired, and with book and blessing, the 
priest united the knight and the ladye. 

Here Maude called out, " Oh, I am so 
glad !" 

M 3 



250 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Lucy smiled, and Lady Flora's face wore 
a fearful look of palor as she drew back from 
the blaze which Cecil had created by heaping 
on more logs. 

" Scarcely had the fugitive bride, resumed 
Cecil, arisen from her knees, when her 
father's war-cry was heard. 

'"To the postern !' shouted Sir Amy as to 
his men, as he himself carried the trembling 
Sybil to a place of safety, and bade the priest 
watch over her. 

" Then was the conflict sharp. Sir Amy as 
and his followers wielded the swords that had 
done good service against the Infidels. At 
first victory crowned their arms — then 
numbers triumphed — foremost fell the priest, 
who had left the Lady Sybil to join the fight — 
then man after man, bravely defending the 
postern. Sir Amyas alone seemed clad with 
invincible armour. He had slain twelve of the 
St. Agnes retainers, w^hen from within a 
terrible cry was heard. Through a secret 
passage in the hill-side, a deserter from his 
ranks, led a handful of the besiegers into 
the Keep, and they were carrying off the 
ladye ! 



LUCY AYLMER. 25 i 

" Then fierce was the Knight's wrath ; and 
abandoning the postern to his men, he 
pursued the armed band to the mouth of the 
secret passage in the vain hope of rescuing his 
newly-made bride — when a sword pierced his 
armour and he fell !" 

" Ah poor fellow !" exclaimed Maude, " and 
SybU?" 

" And Sybil," proceeded Cecil, " was car- 
ried back to her father's castle, and there 
incarcerated in the Ghost's Tower, until she 
should repent and marry Earl Nevis ; but says 
my tale. Earl Nevis was made of kindly stuff, 
and ceased to press his suit, and betaking 
himself to his castle, troubled the ladye no 
more. 

" The Earl De Walden grew more and more 
wroth, and refused to see his daugliter's 
face, which becamfe wan and sad in her 
sohtary tower, around which the winds from 
the sea blew, and the rats performed in the 
walls their nocturnal gambols. For many 
long months, the Ladye Sybil languished here, 
when one day an arrow flew in through the 
casement, and round it was tied a parchment 
covered with writins;. It told her how Sir 



252 LUCY AYLMER. 

Amyas (for it was from him,) had been 
wounded and not killed, in the attack on St. 
Winifred's Keep ; how he had miraculously 
escaped from the ruins, after they had been 
fired by the Earl's bowmen; and how ever 
since he had been collecting armed men to 
assail the castle, and carry her away to the 
shores of Britanny, where dwelt a powerful 
uncle ; and he bade her hope on a few more 
weeks, and then his war-cry would sound 
beneath her windows, for he only awaited 
sufficient numbers to prevent a repulse and 
ensure the success of his scheme. And Sybil 
hoped and watched. A month passed by, yet 
her knight came not. 

'' In the meantime, her father had become 
entangled in broils with a neighbouring 
Baron* and lost much treasure and many men 
— when, at length, the Baron made peace ; it 
was as claimant of the hand of the Earl's 
daughter. 

" Twice had Sybil attempted flight ; twice 
was she pursued and brought back, and now 
day by day did she stand at the window 
awaiting the coming of her husband. It was 
sundown of a watchful day, when the bolts of 



LrCY AYLMER. 253 

her prison creaked, and the Baron came in 
alone. He pressed his suit — she refuted it ; he 
insisted — it maddened her — she ckmg to the 
window bars till her father entered, and with 
unsheathed dagger, bade her choose between 
the Baron and death ! Then wildly she liung 
herself into the paved court below, and her cry 
as she fell was : 

" ' Earl, I have spared you the sin of murder, 
— but you shall see me again !' 

" The two nobles stood a moment aghast, 
then fled in different directions. They escaped 
in time. Another half-hour and Sir Amy as 
with a band of knights crossed the draw- 
bridge to his ladye's rescue. But too late — 
death had sealed her fate. 

" The knight kissed her cold brow, dipped 
a kerchief in her blood and vowed revenge. 
And day and night, month and year, did he 
relentlessly pursue her murderous father. 
Thrice had they met sword to sword — thrice 
had the Earl escaped. 

" It was mid- winter — awful winds like de- 
monaical spirits groaned and hissed in wild 
fury around the turrets of Castle St. Agnes, 



254 LUCY AYLMER. 

and the snow and rain beat thunderingly 
against the Ghost's Tower. 

" The Earl De Walden, hunted, conscious- 
stricken and wearied — took refuge once more 
in his ancestral home, hoping thereby to 
escape the vigilance of his dauntless pursuers. 
He trusted the day of vengeance was over, and 
he sat down once more to his flagon in the 
banqueting hall. 

" Hist ! what sounds ? 'tis a war-trumpet 
that mounts above the shrieks of the wind. 
'Tis Sir Amyas, the Knight of the Black 
Cross and his armed retinue ! they have pas- 
sed the postern — horror and confusion ! how 
can the handful of retainers hold out against 
Knight Amyas and his powerful band ! 

" The Earl flies for his life, horror-stricken 
to the turret of his murdered child— the door 
is barred, but in vain — Sir Amyas defies all 
resistance. Ten years have passed since the 
dark day, and the murdered Sybil's father 
and husband stand face to face, sword in 
hand. AVhen between them, arrayed in dra- 
peries besmeared with blood, rises the form of 
Sybil, grief on her brow, an angel's look on 



LUCY AYLMER. 255 

lier face ! With bleeding hands she stays for a 
moment the knight's uphfted sword; but 
the revenge of years is not to be stopped even 
by the weird and ghostly apparition, and the 
Earl De Walden perishes. rom that day, 
savs the tradition, the murdered Earl and his 
daughter dance around the battlements of the 
Ghost's Turret when the moon is full !" 

Cecil's voice ceased ; and a hand tried the 
door. Maude shrieked; but Lucy rose and 
unlocked it. 

"What is happening here?" asked the 
pleasant voice of Robert. 

" Only a ghost story — such a beauty, with 
a dreadful end !" and his little wife put her 
hand in his, and drew him towards the lire. 
She and Maude had been passing the day at 
Castle St. Agnes ; and Robert had come to 
join them with the Squire, who was now in 
the drawing-room. 

"Who raised the ghost? You, Cecil, I 
know — you look like a necromancer. Ah ! 
old fellow ! I recollect the tales of our school- 
boy days. What was it now ? — the " Old 
Man of the Owl Gate,' or the ' Black 
Cave ?' " 



256 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Oh ! nothing half so terrific — only the 
tradition of Flora's Tower." 

" Ah ! I recollect how you nearly frightened 
young Elsdalc out of his wits at Eton with 
that legend. No wonder Maude shrieked. 
I declare she is trembling still," said Robert, 
putting his hand on her arm. 

" It was positively awful," said Maude. 
" Do let us have a blaze. We require it after 
such a dreadful story. The fire is quite 
low." 

Cecil laughed at her, and lighted a taper on 
the mantel-piece. Then the light fell on the 
still figure of Lady Flora. 

" I say. Mora, my dear girl !" exclaimed 
Cecil, " I had no idea that I had terrified 
you." 

"It is nothing," gasped Flora, as Lucy, 
unclasping the little hands that had clung so 
lovingly to her husband's arm, stooped cares- 
singly over her. 

Maude was going to dash ofi" for her maid ; 
but Cecil restrained her. 

" Wait a moment," he said. " She will 
recover presently. Flora would not like my 
mother to know she was ill." 



LUCY ATLMER. ^0/ 

Lucy slipped away in the dark, and re- 
turned instantly mth some salts, nobody 
knew from where. 

" Flora, darling," she said, kneeling by her 
side, and gently rubbing the shivering girl's 
hands, '' It was only a stoiy— nothing true. 
I am so sorry it frightened you, darling." 

Cecil put his arm round his sister and 
supported her, while Maude and Robert looked 
on, very sorry, but very useless. 

A shudder ran through Flora's frame, and 
her teeth chattered. Again Lucy glided 
away, and brought her a glass of wine she 
had obtained from one of the servants, with- 
out any questions being asked. Lucy had 
such a quiet w^ay of doing things ! 

i\.fter taking this. Lady Flora revived. A 
flush of colom- came to her cheeks ; and she 
said, in broken gasps — how sUly she was, and 
how sorry she was she had given them so 
much trouble. And she smiled on Cecil, and 
kissing Lucy, begged no one else might know 
anything — how foolish she had been. They all 
promised not to mention it ; and just at that 
moment, the dressing-bell rang, and Flora 
went up to her own room without assistance, 



258 LUCY AYLMER. 

leaving a feeling of pity and sadness in the 
hearts of those around her. Cecil pondered 
over her sudden illness, while he prepared for 
dinner, and felt convinced that there was 
something more connected with her altered 
appearance than he could discover. 

Little Lucy Aylmer, in her simple light silk, 
was the married lady of that dinner. Poor 
Lady Flora, in her elegant black lace, only the 
younger sister of the party, was subject to re- 
buffs and imperative commands. She did not 
envy Lucy, but she felt weary of her false posi- 
tion, weary of waiting for a husband who, like 
Sybil's, had only been hers on the wedding- 
day. That ghost story made her very wretched. 
It seemed so exactly as if Cecil had discerned 
her secret, and had related the legend in direct 
allusion to her. But yet she knew it could 
not be so. Were Cecil in possession of her 
secret, he would never have chosen that way 
of making it known to her. 

Lucy sang sweetly that evening, and was as 
cheerful as possible ; while Maude amused 
the whole party with her merry ways. The 
Countess mentally contrasted the two sisters 
with Flora ; and the contrast was anything 



LUCY AYLMER. 259 

but in Flora's favour. When her guests were 
gone, Lady de "Walden turned to Flora, who 
was bending over some flowers : 

" Has anything happened to you ? You 
do look more than usually wretched." 

" I am rather wearied, mamma." 

" Then why, my dear, do you not retire ? 
Rest will be the best thing for you." 

" Oh ! I am not at all sleepy, mamma," 
replied Mora, who was so utterly inspired 
with terror by the ghost story, that she 
dreaded the night. 

" Do you know. Flora, it makes me 
wretched to look at you," continued the 
Countess. " What is to be done for you ? 
I really think I shall emigrate to Madeira, if 
you continue wasting away as you have done 
the last six months." 

" Perhaps the cold weather will revive me," 
replied Flora, patiently. 

" I think Flora and I will go and winter in 
Rome," exclaimed Cecil. " I declare you do 
require a change." He went up to her, and 
put his arm round her waist. * 

She nearly began to cry as she said : 

*• I shall do very well here, thank you." 



260 LUCY AYLMER. 

She was not afraid of Rome on account of 
Lord Glendowan. He had long since re- 
tui'ned to the Highlands. But she dreaded 
a greater separation from her husband. 

" But I do not think it is ' very well, thank 
you/ " continued her brother, smiling. " You 
look so pale and shadowy among that black 
lace. I shall be obliged to carry you from 
town to town, to all the foreign physicians, as 
a patient baffling medical skill." 

"It is ridiculous. Flora, to put on that 
black lace while you look so ill," remarked 
Lady Anne, replacing some chessmen she and 
the Squire had been using. ''You should 
brighten up with a little pink." 

" Oh ! my dear Anne, pink is not at all 
becoming to her; it makes her look quite 
deadly," said the Countess. " Indeed, I do not 
know what she ought to wear — it baffles all 
poor Stevens' skill. Flora will persist in look- 
ing like a ghost." 

Cecil felt Flora shudder at the word, and he 
said playfully, " I will not have Flora found 
fault with. I will buy her a dress that will 
suit her admirably, a peach silk, I saw the 
other day, at Arminster ; neither too killing 



LUCY AYLMER. 261 

nor too trying. I believe I have hit on the 
right scientific words !" Then to change the 
conversation he said, " So your friend, Archer 
Neville, is made Sergeant-at-law ?" 

Elora wished her brother's arm were not 
round her, for a thrill shot through her frame. 
She scarcely dared remain, and yet she longed 
to hear all, so she gently slipped away from 
Cecirs arm, and sat down on a sofa, trembling 
and eager at the mention of her husband's 
name. 

"When did you hear this, Cecil?" the 
Countess asked. 

Mr. Neville told me after you had left the 
dinner-table, and not a little proud he seems. 
He imagined we had all seen it in the 
'Times.'" 

" I am confident Archer Neville will rise to 
great things one day," remarked Lady Anne ; 
"but he is a sort of man I never could 
like." 

" So difierent from his brother," observed 
the Countess, " so impenetrable a person ! You 
can scarcely understand him, and yet his con- 
versation is wonderful, I have thoroughly 
enjoyed it many times. I think if he were to 



262 LUCY AYLMER. 

many, it might dispel that outer crust of 
ice." 

" His sister makes his house too comforta- 
ble, I suspect," said Cecil ; " and, indeed, I 
cannot quite imagine the sort of woman who 
would marry him." 

'' Nor I," replied the Countess. " It must be 
some one very young and weak, who had 
never had any attention shown her before. I 
cannot picture him a lover ; indeed I do not 
think there can be much love in his composi- 
tion. He never appeared to me particularly 
affectionate to his nieces, when that sweet 
Lucy finds her way into every one's heart." 

"A pretty little doll!" remarked Lady 
Anne, with a slight curl of her proud 

lip. 

" No, Anne, that description does not do her 
justice," rejoined the Countess. " She is some- 
thing so entirely out of the common — so 
ethereal, I might almost say, that it is useless 
attempting to describe her." 

Lady Anne threw back her head : she did 
not like to hear Lucy's praises, so she said, 
" That old wonder, Sir Edgar Tyrrell, appears, 
from all accounts, to have taken a new lease 



LUCY AYLMER. 263 

of his life. It is quite marvellous how he shakes 
off attack after attack." 

" And that vnil/' added Cecil smiling, " I 
wonder if it is at last made, and on whom the 
thunder-shock of his fortmie will fall. Nothing 
that concerns the wonderfid document would 
surprise me ; if suddenly his huntsman, or Lady 
Tyrrell's maid, or the crossing-sweeper — or 
anyone, were to come in for his property !" 

" It appears to me so entirely clear, that he 
ought to leave it to Mr. Aylmer and his 
sister," said the Countess ; ''it is but com- 
mon justice." 

"Poor Mildred and Robert were both 
unfortunate in offending the old man," 
obsen^d Cecil. 

" Now, I should not wonder, if after all, 
Archer Neville were to come in for a great 
part of it," said Lady Anne. " He is Sir 
Edgar's godson, and constantly about him; 
and the crafty lawyer knows how to make 
use of his senses." 

Lady Plora sat perfectly still, looking 
intently at her sister. Something seemed to 
flash upon her, for a pink colour passed across 



264 LUCY AYLMER. 

her pale face, and her Hps parted, bat she did 
not speak. 

" As to Mrs. St. John coming in for a 
legacy, there is no chance, for she married 
against their will," continued Lady Anne. 

" Lady Tyrrell has quite forgiven her," said 
Cecil. " I never saw a woman so changed. 
She has been learning to love 'her enemies,' 
as she used to call poor St. John and his 
wife." 

'' I do not blame Mrs. St. John for marry- 
ing, for her husband's family is a good one ; 
but it was enough to irritate a mother, much 
more one who was not a near relation. I could 
never forgive any one belonging to me who 
perpetrated a clandestine marriage. I think 
it is a most wicked thing !" said the Coun- 
tess. 

" I shall know how to act now you have 
given your opinion," rejoined Cecil laughing. 

The Countess smiled at her own vehemence. 
" Oh ! I am not afraid of any one here 
doing anything of the kind. You and Anne 
are much to prudent ; and as to poor Flora, she 
is too modest and timid — come, Flora ;" she 



LUCY AYLMER. 265 

continued, turning towards her, " I cannot 
allow you so sit shivering there any longer — 
Come, my dear, I shall see you to your room." 
The Countess gave her an arm, and led her 
away, after throwuig a shawl over her 
shoulders. 

Six months had made a sad change in poor 
Flora, and the face reflected in her toilet-glass 
did not look like the face that had first looked 
in that glass, that very day year. Flora was 
so exhausted and feeble, her maid could 
scarcely undress her ; and then she feared 
leaving her for the night — lest she should 
faint away. ^^ 

Lady Flora felt thankful when Stevens 
offered to sit up with her till she should feel 
rested and inchned to sleep. The ghost story 
was haunting her. Sybil's fate was like her 
own. 

Archer was waiting for money till he claimed 
her. Nearly five months he had put her off on 
the plea of his relation's will — and now, a 
sudden fight had dawned on her, could the rela- 
tion be his godfather. Sir Edgar TyrreU ? If so, 
was he grasping after the orphan's portion? 
Oh ! it could not — it must not be ! Her beloved, 

VOL. II. N 



266 LUCY AYLMER. 

lier noble-minded Archer, could not stoop to 
be so base ! 

She prayed it might not be so, and she also 
prayed that if Archer were not to join her, she 
might die soon, for her life was very weary to 
her! 



LUCY AYLMER. 267 



CHAPTER XII. 

What joy have I without thee ? What delight? 
Grief wastes my life, and makes it misery ; 
Day for the others ever, but for rae 
For ever night ! for ever night ! 
When he is gone, 'tis dark ! my soul is sad ! 

LONGFELLOW. 

It was nearly midniglit on the 23rd of 
December ; the fire in Archer Neville's study 
had burnt low, and then gone out, while 
Archer sat in his elbow-chair, his brows knit, 
his arms crossed, his thoughts pondering 
deeply and earnestly. He had sat thus for a 
full hour, scarce lifting his eyes from the table 
on which they were fixed. It could be no 
common thing that thus engrossed him. Was 
it the intricate case of a client that had occu- 

N 2 



268 LUCY AYLMER. 

pied him fully during the past week, and on 
which his professional reputation might be 
staked ? 

Ah no ! he thought of his sad, forsaken 
wife, one of whose touching, imploring letters 
Iny before him ; he thought of the meeting so 
soon to take place between them ; and how 
could he then withstand her entreaties to be 
allowed to join him — how put her off any 
longer with the old, w^orn out excuse of the 
will ? And yet to forfeit that will would be to 
Archer as forfeiting life itself — the will, that 
was to aggrandize him — to raise him. He 
lived in the daily fear of Flora joining him — 
leaving the Castle and throwing herself upon 
his love. There was not a day when Archer 
returned from his chambers, that he did not 
expect to find her by his fireside. And yet 
his heart did not upbraid him for having per- 
suaded her to their clandestine marriage. He 
did it from expediency, to secure the Lady 
Flora, who, he foresaw in his long separation, 
if not his by more than promise, might become 
reconciled to Lord Glendowan, or even meet 
with some new and approved pretendant to 
her hand. But these fears could not exist 



LUCY AYLMER. 2G9 

now. She was his, irrevocably his. The 
Countess's storms and Lady Anne's proud 
sneer, could not put asunder those, who in 
that dark gloomy little church had been 
joined together. 

Archer so much feared meeting his wife, 
that he was on the point of relinquishing his 
annual visit to the Manor, but that no plausi- 
ble excuse presented itself ; and, at length, the 
longing to see his Flora conquered the dread. 
How he wished a fit, an accident, or anything 
would carry ofi* Sir Edgar that night, and so 
enable him to claim her ! The love of money 
is the root of all evil ! so says the inspired 
volume. It was so with Archer : it caused him 
to long for the death of his generous friend 
and benefactor. It kept him from his wife, and 
made her heart-broken and wretched ! What 
availed wealth to her ? It coidd not ease her 
troubled heart, or heal her broken spirit ? 
Only love could effect that. Ah, yes ! love is 
all powerful, where riches are as dross ! But 
Archer reasoned not thus. 

It was on the following Christmas morning 
that Archer saw for the second time, since 
their marriage, the Lady Flora. He came into 



270 LUCY AYLMER. 

church rather late, just as a choir of Lady 
Anne's well-trained scholars were bursting 
forth, in their glad young voices, their favourite 
hymn, " Hark the Herald Angels sing !" 
The Squire's new pew confronted that of the 
Countess : and thither Archer's eyes mechani- 
cally wandered, and a sharp pang of remorse 
shot through his heart, as before him he saw 
his young wife ; but how changed since they 
had last parted ! No answering gaze met his ; 
a thick lace veil hilng partly over the face 
that had so much attracted him a year since : 
but once when that face was raised for a 
moment, he read enough in that silent coun- 
tenance to tell him, that the written 
sorrows of the last six months, were not 
feigned but real. 

Flora neither knelt nor stood during the 
whole service : she sat immovable — between 
her upright, handsome mother and the sister 
in whose heart sympathy for her had never 
dwelt ; the brother who cared for her was 
absent. Cecil's Christmas was passed as 
many others had been with his brother, the 
young Earl, who was stronger in mind and 
body than he had long since been. The 



LUCY AYLMER. 271 

sermon was ended, but Archer had heard it 
not ; he watched Lady Flora rise, draw down 
her veil and leave the church alone — the 
Countess and Lady Anne remaining back to 
partake of the sacrament. He hastily snatched 
up his hat, and followed her with an im- 
petuosity quite unusual to him. At the door, 
however, the impulse, whatever it was, sub- 
sided, and he stood in the porch and waited 
for the rest of his party, with bent brows and 
a trembling passion working in his lip ; mean- 
while Lady Flora had entered the Countess's 
little hooded carriage, and its cream-coloured 
ponies were fast convejdng her back to the 
Castle, without even her husband's Christmas 
wishes. 

Archer walked fast on to the Manor mth 
Maude, moody and full of dark thoughts : 
none of the Christmas holiness had stolen into 
his heart — no ! not one ray ! AVhen Robert 
and Lucy came up to the Manor about an 
hour after, Maude followed Lucy upstairs to 
take off her bonnet, and throwing herself 
down on the side of the bed, she ex- 
claimed : 



272 LUCY AYLMER. 

" I say, Lucy, I have found it all out, so you 
may consider me clever in love affairs !" 

" What are you talking about, Maude ?" 
Lucy said, turning round from the glass where 
she had been smoothing her soft, glossy 
braids. 

" Why truths, to be sure," replied Maude, 
rocking herself backwards and forwards with 
a slight look of satisfaction on her face. 

" Now, Maude, it is naughty of you to tanta- 
lize me." And Lucy put her arras round her 
sister, saying, playfully, " I will not release 
you until I know your secret." 

" Oh ! it is not my secret — it is theirs," 
replied Maude. "What bhnd eyes, Lucy, 
yours must be not to have seen it 1" 

" If you mean Jane Blunt and Charles 
Hooper, I thought their behaviour too bad. 
They have plenty of time all day, I am sure, 
for laughing and whispering together, besides 
church-time." 

"And yet they must come to church 
to get it finished," said Maude, laughing. 
" But my poor lovers are worse off than 
yours. They had not the advantage of the 



LUCY AYLMER. 273 

proximity of free seats. A cold-hearted 
piece of stone chancel separated the rival 
pews hke a great gulf. But, oh ! Lucy, the 
ravenous looks Uncle Archer darted at Lady 
Flora 1 and the indignant frowns the Countess 
cast back at him — the battle of the eyes ! 
It was such fun." 

" Hush, Maude !" said her sister, though 
she could not forbear laughing. 

" I suppose it is rather wicked to see things 
in such a light at church ; but it could not be 
helped. Uncle Archer was in a perfect fury, 
like one of papa's dogs when James holds it 
back from going to the hunt with the rest. 
He looked as if he could have flown to Lady 
Flora ; and there she sat like a leaf out of 
Miss Mead's book of fashions — her veil draped 
half up, and her mantle folds not moving an 
inch. I declare she scarcely turned over 
the leaves of her prayer-book. Then, when 
she left the church. Uncle Archer dashed out 
after her ; and I found him in the porch, 
looking like a thunder-cloud ; and I declare 
he darted home like hghtning. I had almost 
to run to keep pace with him ; and when I 

N 3 



274 LUCY AYLMER. 

spoke, lie answered me quite savagely. He 
had not even noticed our new singing, or 
beard the sermon, or anything. If you don't 
call that a case of hopeless love, I do not 
know what is !" said Maude, pausing to take 
breath. 

Lucy laughed. 

" Well, you may laugh,'' resumed Maude ; 
" but I dare say it is no laughing matter with 
them. I knew all along, refusing Lord Glen- 
do wan w^as not the cause of Flora's melancholy 
looks. It is not likely that any girl of three- 
and-twenty would care about an aged creature 
like that. I am sure I w^ould not ! She can 
only have accepted him to get away from the 
Countess and her lady-sister ; and she had 
never seen Uncle Archer then." 

"Maude, it amuses me to hear you so 
seriously making out an affair between Uncle 
Archer and poor Flora," 

" Oh, Lucy, you are married, and married 
people are slow," replied Maude; ''because 
their own affairs of the kind have ended in a 
slow, jog-trot sort of love, they have no regard 
for anything of the kind in others. Now I 



LtJCY AYLMER. 275 

have ; and I should dearly like to see Uncle 
Archer triumph over the Countess's proud 
schemes for Lady Flora." 

''' But really, i\Iaude, I think this is only 
nonsense which has taken possession of your 
head." 

"We shall see," replied Maude. "Oh, 
Lucy 1 what a lovely brooch ! Where did you 
get that ? Opals set with diamonds ! That 
surely was not the parson's extravagance ?" 

" I should be very sorry if it were," said 
Lucy, unfastening the brooch out of her pink 
ribbon. " Aunt Flora's brother's Christmas 
present !" and Lucy laughed. 

"You may ridicule what I say, if you 
please, little Mrs. Lucy," rejoined Maude ; 
" but if she is not ' Aunt Flora' one day, it 
will be no fault of either of them. But when 
did this brooch arrive?" 

" Oh ! Cecil left it with Robert for me when 
he went away. He is so very kind." 

"Heigho !" sighed ]\[aude, replacing the 
the brooch. 1^ 

" What did vou sio;h for, Maude ?" 

" I do not know. Come down now, Lucy. 



276 LUCY AYLMER. 

We must not play truant any longer, or those 
below will pine after our sweet company." 

The remainder of that night did not pass 
off very brightly. Archer was uncommonly 
silent and gloomy ; intensely preoccupied with 
something; and he winced and knit his brows at 
every mention of Lady Flora's name ; while 
Maude seemed to take a delight in talking 
about her. Augusta had a headache, and 
was cross. Robert was called away from 
dinner to one of his parishioners who was 
dying. And at the Castle there seemed very 
little peace and love. The Countess came 
home from church, looking very stormy, and 
vented the whole fury of her wrath on Flora, 
because Archer Neville had looked on her. 
Poor Flora declared she had scarcely seen him, 
that it was no fault of hers if he did look 
towards their pew, her mamma had no 
feeling, or she must have noticed how ill she 
was in church. So poor Flora preserved her 
secret still, and in the midst of the Countess's 
upbraidings, went into a violent fit of hysterics, 
and spent the day of rejoicing in the solitude 
of her own room. 



LUCY AYLMER. 277 

It was a mild night in January : ghostly 
shadows fell aslant the lawn, silvery in the 
pure moonlight. The woodland paths of the 
old Castle caught the shades from the pine 
tops which crowned the grey hills ; and these 
hills again let their shadows fall gently into 
the valleys beneath. The heavens were cloud- 
less and unbroken, save where the stars, holy 
things, and the great white moon looked 
calmly down on God's earth below. The 
stars let their gaze fall on the velvet car- 
peting of the grass ; the moon was reflected in 
the untroubled lake below, and set it in a 
thousand gems. There was a light m the 
Ghost's Tower, an unusual sight now ; and 
under a tall elm, long since blasted by 
lightning, whose pale boughs sti'etched them 
forth like huge spectral arms, stood a figure 
Avrapped in coat and plaid, with eyes looking 
fixedly at the Ghost's Turret, regarding not 
the weird story of the spectre dancers. The 
fight burned on steadily, unwaveringly : the 
Lady Flora must surely be frequenting her 
old haunts again, forsaken since the legend 
had fallen so drearily on her ear. A very 



278 LUCY AYLMER. 

light tread stepped on the grass, so soft, so gen- 
tle ! Was it a fairy ? Ah, no ! fairies love the 
moonlight ; and the form gliding so swiftly 
along, seemed ever choosing the shadows 
for her tread. A loose cloak enveloped her, 
whose hood covered and shaded her head and 
partly her face — it was a real inhabitant of 
earth, no shade of the dead Sybil that stepped 
under the blasted tree ! 'Twas the Lady 
Mora who leant against that stricken elm, 
breathless and weary, for support ; 'twas 
Archer Neville who clasped her in his arms. 
" Ever true, dearest Plora !" he exclaimed, 
and the tones seemed too impassioned for 
such a heart. 

" Do not call me true. I am a deceiver even 
to myself. I cannot bear this longer ; day and 
hour am I haunted by tormenting self- 
reproach." 

" A tender conscience is often self- 
reproving. Flora, dearest, this must not 
be !" 

*' Oh Archer 1" she exclaimed, " do not 
mock my misery. If you only look upon me 
after wealth, after fame, would it not be 



LUCY AYLMER. 279 

better if we ceased to meet ; if I found a home 
within the walls of a convent, and you pursued 
unchecked your ambitious desires." 

" This from you, Flora !" he sighed in a 
tender tone of reproach. 

" Oh, Archer ! do not upbraid me. If you 
knew the misery of the last * six months ; and 
how, but for Lucy, I should have wished my- 
self dead !" she wept bitterly as she spoke. 

Archer soothed her awhile, then asked anx- 
iously : " How has Lucy influenced you — 
does she know our secret ?'' 

" No one knows it," she replied, " save 
your strong heart and my weak breaking 
one," she wept again in utter wretched- 
ness. 

" You give way to too much despair, Flora," 
he said. " Would the Countess, think you, 
be so inexorable, if we still concealed our 
marriage ; and I offered myself as suitor for 
your hand ?" 

" Oh, worse ! worse than inexorable ! and 
Anne, my cold, stern sister, hates you as 
much as she does me. Archer, they suspect 
us of love. When you sat beside me the other 
evening, eyes were on us — watchful and 



280 LUCY AYLMLR. 

jealous ; and wlicn you were gone — oh ! my 
mother's words ! Archer," and Flora's 
voice sank into a whisper, '' she would turn 
me out of doors, did she know it !" 

" I defy her !" he exclaimed with a dark 
flash in his eyes. " I defy her ! Flora. We 
have had many meetings, and we may have 
been watched ; but to-night I can tell you, that 
yet another week, and I come to claim you. 
Ask me nothing, how or why this hasty con- 
clusion. I tell you, beloved, to-morrow I 
leave for London ; this day week I return and 
take to my home the Lady Flora Neville.'' 

There was a narrow path near, overhung 
with dark firs. He drew her away to this 
spot, and put her arm in his — she shud- 
dered as the cold shade fell upon her. 
" Oh, Archer, not here !" she said, " I cannot 
bear it !" They went up the damp path 
into a pleasure garden, she shivering in the 
cold night air ; then suddenly she said, " You 
know the Legend of the Turret ?" 

" Every one does. Flora mine ! but how does 
that refer to us ?" 

" While Sir Auiyas waited for his armed 
men, death came to Sybil ! Why not take me 



LUCY AYLMER. 281 

away now, Archer? I have a presentiment 
ere another week closes, that something will 
happen. Oh, Archer ! that story hamits me. 
Do I sleep by night, 'tis in my dreams. 
Do I walk by day, it is ever beside me ; 
even now I seem to see the bleeding Sybil 
before me." 

" Dear Flora, this is superstitious and 
weak," and Archer laughed at her fears. " I 
tell you again, my own wife, yet another 
week, and neither the spectral Sybil nor the 
living Countess shall be your terror any 
longer ! Our secret marriage is no isolated 
case — it is what many have done before, and 
will do still. Lucy's father gained his bride 
in the same manner." 

" It will break my mother's heart," she 
murmured in a low, wailing tone. 

" Oh, Flora ! can you care for such a 
mother?" he said reproachfully. 

" And the world will hold me up as a 
byeword of contempt and shame; and shun 
me — oh, how scornfully !" 

"And do you fear the world. Flora?" Ah, 
what good will the world do you ! Will it love 



282 LUCY AYLMER. 

and shelter you? Flora, Flora, you regret 
Lord Glendowan !" 

Flora raised her drooping head, and a 
shade of pride crossed that sad countenance 
as she replied, " Oh, Archer ! why taant me 
with that name — that never was to pass our 
lips ? It is the first time my weakness has 
invited my husband's scorn." 

" Pardon, dearest Flora !" Archer ex- 
claimed, " it was but haste, not taunts. Heaven 
forbid ! that I should thus cruelly use you. It is 
but jealousy of you, my precious Flora — tell 
me that you regret him not." 

" Regret him ? Never ! oh proudly will I join 
you — proudly do I bear your name ! But 
now. Archer, we must part, ere I am 
missed." 

They did part. And an owl high in the 
pine tops, hooted a dismal accompaniment to 
their passionate farewell. Shudderingly and 
noiselessly did Flora step from the damp 
shadow into the chilly moonlight. A fever 
throbbed in her heart, and those drooping 
sad eyes, glowed with the light of an un- 
natural fire : the dim flame still flickered in 



LUCY ATLMER. 283 

the Ghost's Tower. Flora directed her gaze 
there irresistibly, and yet with horror, as she 
hurried across the dank grass of the woods. 
She who had longed for love throughout her 
life, now nearly sank beneath it : it was a 
hard task to persevere in her deception, a 
difficidt deceit to keep up. With Ai'cher it 
was easy, his dark eyes seemed ever to com- 
mune with secrets, he the clever, courted man, 
with grey mingling prematurely among his 
raven hair ; who came and went at London 
soirees ; who came and went at Castle St. 
Agnes ; hitherto trusted, looked up to ; and 
till those passionate looks on that Chistmas 
morning, how utterly unsuspected. 

This evening. Archer had implored Flora 
to meet him as he left Forsted the following 
day ; and Flora excused herself from the 
family circle on the plea of finishing a 
painting in her studio. No one wondered 
at anything Flora did : she had become so 
very strange of late ; and neither the Countess 
nor Lady Anne cared for her sufficiently to 
miss her society. Cecil both missed her, 
and wondered why she preferred a solitary 
evening in the gloom of the " Ghost's 



284 LUCY AYLMER. 

Turret," for which he knew she had con- 
ceived an aversion. It was close upon ten 
o'clock, when Cecil, weary of the monotony 
of the conversation in the drawing-room, 
w^andered forth on the terrace to enjoy 
the moonhght. He took two or three turns, 
then paused to look up at his sister's turret, 
for he was thinking of Flora. The hght 
burned there steadily. He longed to in- 
trude upon her solitude. It was painful to 
him to think there was one among that 
small circle who concealed some secret 
grief. He turned aside to gaze on the 
tranquil, sleeping landscape, and the miles 
and miles of valley that slumbered at his 
feet. While he looked, a shadowy figure 
emerged spectre-like from the shade of a 
knot of oaks. Cecil's eyes were fixed on 
it, as it crossed the grass, and was lost 
again in the shadow. He knew^ the daugh- 
ter of one of the gamekeepers often crossed 
the park to visit a sister who served at 
the Castle ; so after looking once more, he 
returned again to his walk and meditations 
on the stone terrace. He was pacing to and 
fro entirely under the shadow of the Castle, 



LUCY AYLMER. 285 

and the moon shone not on him, therefore 
it was, that Flora thinking herself safe, 
mounted the steps, and also trod the ter- 
race, seeking a side door which communi- 
cated with the turret stairs. She stole along, 
frightened at what she, the timid, shrinking 
one, had done. 

The hght burned still in the " Ghost's 
Tower." Her eyes mechanically sought it, and 
when she withdrew them, Cecil Erresford 
turned in his walk and confronted her. 

She started back with a faint scream of 
terror and surprise. Cecil stepped forward, 
exclaiming : " Flora ! is it possible you are 
out so late ?" 

'•' Yes ! I just took a little walk," she 
rephed, recovering herself. 

" We thought you were in your studio — a 
light burns there still, Flora," her brother 
continued, looking steadily at her. 

" I left my lamp burning," she replied 
nervously. " I could not paint nor read ; my 
head ached and I was so miserable, that I 
came into the moonlight. It was better there 
than in my gloomy studio." 



286 LUCY AYLMER. 

" But, my dearest sister, no one wished 
you to remain in your studio," said Cecil. 

" Oh ! I know it. No one asked me to 
sit alone. I chose it. I thought I should 
hke to look over my paintings, only my head 
throbbed," she raised her hand instinctively 
to her burning temples. 

"Take my arm, Mora," said her brother, 
" let us return in-doors ; you ought not to 
remain out longer in this cold night air." 

" Very well, as you please," she replied. 

"Mora, my dear girl, do tell me what 
has, during the last few months, changed 
you," Cecil asked anxiously, " and made 
you so wretched and unhappy." 

"I have never been very happy, Cecil," 
she rephed in a low voice. 

" It grieves me to hear you say so," he 
replied. 

" Oh ! do not think about me," inter- 
rupted Elora. " I am not changed ; I never 
was lively ; never was bright like other girls ; 
so you must not expect it of me. Cecil, we 
will come in now." And she m-ged him 
towards the door. 



LUCY AYLMER. 287 

" Plora," said her brother, stopping as 
they approached the entrance, "I am con- 
vinced there is something on your mind 
which you conceal, that causes the change 
in you. I do not wish to penetrate into 
your thoughts or feeUngs ; but would it 
ease your mind to make me the participator 
in any trouble which may oppress you ? You 
know, or ought to know," he added, after a 
moment's pause, " how really I love you, 
and how gladly I would do anything to 
further plans for your happiness." 

" Oh ! I have no plans, no secrets. What 
makes you think so ?" she looked at him 
for the first time during their walk, and his 
eyes were fixed on hers compassionately, en- 
quiringly. 

" I think so, Flora," he replied, " because 
you would never walk in the park at this 
hour imattended, without some especial 
reason." 

" I am never believed," she murmured, 
in a low, tearful voice, *' I never have 
been." 

" When, Flora, have I ever doubted your 
word?" asked Cecil gently. 



28 S LUCY AYLMER. 

" Oh ! not you ; but every one else/' she 
replied. Then drawing her cloak closer around 
her, she said, " I am cold ; do not question 
me. I have nothing to tell." 

"I do not wish you to tell me anything, 
except that you love me, sister mine. I wish 
I could hear you say that." 

" My love is worth no one's acceptance," 
she replied. " I wonder you, Cecil, who are so 
courted, so loved, should care for so trivial a 
a thing !" 

"A trivial thing!" he said, " dear Plora ! 
Do not shun the care and affection I would 
give you." 

" I do not shun you, Cecil — how falsely I 
am accused !" 

It was of no use to argue with her, so he 
led her into the hall. The light of the lamps 
shone across such a haggard, anxious face, 
that it pained Cecil's heart. Mora might deny 
it, but he was more than ever convinced some- 
thing which he knew not caused that woe. 

Directly they entered the house. Flora 
wished him good-night, and walked quickly 
away. She was so unHke her usual self, so 
wild-looking, so agitated, that Cecil, unap- 



LUCY AYLMER. 289 

preliensive as he generally was, actually had 
a flash of fear that her mind might be affected. 
He followed her quickly. '' Do you return to 
your studio, Flora ?" he asked. 

" Yes ! but let me be alone." 

" The stairs are steep, I will take you up 
them," he said, as again he drew her reluctant 
hand through his arm. 

When they arrived at the turret door, he 
endeavoured to open it for her ; but the key 
was out, and the lock turned. 

The key was in Flora's pocket. She dreaded 
to produce it, for fear of her brother's suspi- 
cions, which she felt were already awakened, 
and might be further aroused. But after a 
moment's hesitation, she considered that her 
secret, even if discovered, was safer wdth Cecil 
than any one else ; so instead of a feigned 
surprise, which she meditated, she put the key 
in the lock, and assigned no reason for having 
shut out from her room all intruders during 
her absence. 

" No one shall know of this meeting. 
Flora," said her brother on parting. 

She felt certain then that he had discovered 
something. Perhaps he had been following her ; 

VOL. II. o 



290 LUCY AYLMER. 

perhaps even a witness to her meeting with 
Archer. Her Hps were cold and trembhng as 
she received Cecil's embrace, and she spoke 
not, for utterance failed her ; and scarcely had 
he closed the door, when she sank down on 
the floor, and bmying her head on a couch, 
sobbed aloud. 

What ailed Plora, and why she walked 
alone at so late an hour, were questions which 
Cecil asked himself in vain that night. Could 
she have made an appointment to meet any 
one ? Cecil rejected the idea as improbable. 

On the morrow he was to leave the Cas- 
tle, and join the Earl in London, previously 
to starting on a long tour through the 
States, and in Central America. His 
brother's health, both of mind and body 
Avas greatly improved, and his physicians 
thought much benefit might accme from a per- 
fect change -, and the young Earl being 
particularly desirous that Cecil should ac- 
company him, he had resolved to gratify his 
wish. 

Cecil felt loth to leave Elora. He was 
convinced that there was a mystery hanging 
over her ; a mystery concealed beneath the 



LUCY AYLMER. 291 

impenetrable veil of her own strange temper. 
But the morrow came, and they parted. 

Flora's farewell was constrained and 
hmTied. 

"Ah !" she thought, " when he returns, he 
will find me very different from what I am 
now ! Another week," she repeated to herself 
— " Another week — hold on till then !" 

The Countess had never mentioned to Cecil 
her suspicions concerning Archer Neville, or 
he might have found some clue to that which 
so much puzzled him. 

Sir Edgar was again apparently dying. 
Archer trusted that in another week, he 
might be in possession of the long coveted 
property. Flora was no longer to be resisted ; 
her prayers and tears overcame him ; and 
should Sir Edgar linger on, he was too ill to 
alter his will — the will that was to give Ajcher 
all he had so long hoped for. 



o 2 



292 LUCr AYLMER. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

hush ! .... To prayer and tear 
Of mine thou hast refused thine ear ; 
But now the awful hour draws on, 
When truth must speak in loftier tone. 

ROKEBY. 

The Countess De Walden sat by a table in 
her morning room, at half-past five o'clock 
the day after Lady Flora's nocturnal meeting 
with Archer Neville, in silence, but in great 
indignation; while the Lady Anne put the 
last stitch to a coarse brown holland pinafore, 
and surveyed it with an inward satisfaction. 
Her good works w^ere manifold, and she built 
upon them : peace for the present, security for 
hereafter. At the same hour, Cecil sat in 
the library in Park Lane, and thought uneasily 



LUCY AYLMETl. 293 

of Flora. His brother, the young Earl, dozed by 
the fire : the expression of his face was sad and 
helpless ; and as Cecil glanced at him, he again 
thouslit of Flora, whom he o;reatly resembled. 
Precisely at half-past five, Lady Flora entered 
her mother's morning room ; and drawing her 
chair close to the fire, remarked how cold it 
was, and what a thick fog filled the park. 
No reply from the two proud ones at the 
table ! Flora gave a message from ^Irs. 
Aylmer, her kind regards and thanks for a 
book the Countess had sent her — no reply I 
Flora supposed De Walden and Cecil were 
together by this time — no answer ! Flora 
raised her head, and saw a storm lowering 
over the proud ones at the table — storms came 
frequently from thence; it was a stormy 
quarter and blew frequent gales. Floni 
trembled beneath them, yet was habituated 
to their wearing blasts. She gathered up the 
folds of her shawl and rose to depart, desiring, 
if possible, to postpone the storm ; but it was 
on the eve of breaking forth, and would not be 
delayed. 

Flora paused in her passage from the fire 
to the door to take a book off' the centre table. 



294 LUCY AYLMER. 

A newspaper lay before her with the obituary 
turned upwards. Her eyes rested on it, the 
first announcement rather startled her. 

"On the 16th instant, at his residence in 
Grosvenor Place, Sir Edgar Tyrrell, Bart., in 
his 67th year." 

Lucy and she had only been talking of him 
a short time before, and Lucy w^as telling her 
how fond he was of her Uncle Archer. 
" Mamma, did you see this?" Flora exclaimed, 
turning the paper towards the Countess. " Sir 
Edgar Tyrrell is dead." 

" I am perfectly aware of it," was her Lady- 
ship's cold reply. 

Flora looked up at her mother and said, 
" Poor old man, I am very sorry." 

" We often do feel sorry for those out of 
our own family ; but hesitate not to bring 
sorrows in," was the Countess's rejoinder. 

Flora's eyes still travelled down the 
"Times." Lady Anne watched her with a 
secret triumph in her expression — the Countess 
sighed in a martyr-like manner. Presently 
Flora pushed aside the paper, and turned 
away with her book in one hand, while with 
the other she gathered up the handsome, 



LUCY AYLMER. *295 

bright shawl which hung on the floor. Her 
face w^as shghtly flushed with stooping, and 
her dark eyes looked large and lustrous : she 
would have made an elegant picture with the 
light from the lamp falling on her. " Flora 1" 
the Countess said. Flora's hand was opening 
the door, but she turned back, thinking one 
more week, and all harsh words will be at an 
end ! She stood now quietly expecting a 
storm : its first breath came in the words, 
"Flora, what were you doing last evening 
after tea?" 

Flora coloured deeply. " Looking over the 
paintings in my studio," she rephed. 

" Indeed ! I imagined you had been other- 
wise employed, and am glad to hear you give 
such a satisfactory account of your evening," 
said the Countess, in a sarcastic tone of voice, 
w^hile poor Flora trembled and scarcely 
breathed. " You did not happen to walk out 
last night about ten ?" the Countess fixed on 
her younger daughter her piercing eyes. 

Flora looked on the ground and said hastily. 
" Really, mamma, it is strange I cannot spend 
an evening alone without being questioned 
and called to account." 



296 LUCY AYLMER. 

'* Those very words show you are ashamed 
of something," remarked the Countess, in the 
same chilling tone. 

Lady Flora felt the old slumbering passion 
of her childish days rise, as she replied, 
" Mamma, you have always been suspicious 
of me, and I suppose you will find harm now 
in my having taken a few turns with Cecil to 
enjoy the moonlight." 

" With Cecil ! Was there no one else 
present ?" 

*' Who could there be, mamma?" Flora 
asked, her hps white and quivering. 

" That is best known to yourself," observed 
Lady Anne, continuing her work, and sewing 
vigorously at the hard material. 

"Perhaps it was a bat," replied Flora, 
checking an hysterical laugh. 

" Hush, Flora !" exclaimed the Countess 
angrily. " Answer me this — were you in the 
Upper Park yesterday morning ?" 

" You know, mamma, I was in-doors all 
day." 

" Bon r replied the Countess. " You 
were not in the Upper Park on Sun- 
day ?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 297 

" How was it possible, mamma, when 1 
0Ti]y drove to and from cliurch ?" 

'' Oh ! do not appeal to me about your 
movements Flora !" the Countess said, then 
stretchino^ her hand across to Ladv Anne's 
work-basket, she drew forth something 
glittering, and holding up to Flora's view a 
serpent bracelet with enamel and diamonds 
on the head, added, " I suppose. Flora, you 
will tell me next this bracelet belongs to 
Hearn, the gamekeeper's wife, and that she 
dropped it under the withered elm last 
night ?" 

Lady Flora grasped fast by the table. 
Her shawl fell and draped in folds round 
her feet, she stood silent and horror- 
stricken. 

•' I am suspicious, Flora, yes ! I am sus- 
picious ;" the Countess said with increasing 
bitterness in her voice. 

Lady Anne's needle made a hard-hearted, 
satisfactory sound, as it worked to and from 
the child's pinafore — except that there wa^ 
complete silence. 

Then the Countess rose to her full height, 

o 3 



298 LUCY AYLMER. 

and laying her hands on the back of her chair, 
exclaimed : 

*' riora, I command you to tell me, 
before you leave my presence, how this 
bracelet came to be found last night at twelve 
o'clock ?" 

Mora's lips quivered in the attempt to 
frame a reply. 

" No excuse, Flora," interrupted the Coun- 
tess, "no falsehood ! not a shade of tarnish 
is on the gold — only a very short time could 
it have lain on that damp grass." Her lady 
mother looked at her with the full, earnest 
depth of those deep, scornful eyes. All speech 
was terrified out of Flora, and again another 
silence ! 

" If Flora thinks any of the servants had 
taken it, mamma, would it not be best to 
let them all be summoned?" Lady Anne 
said, with a pecuhar glance in her rigid coun- 
tenance. 

" Oh ! no, no !" interrupted Flora, " no one 
took it." 

" Then you acknowledge having dropped 
it," rejoined Lady Anne drily. 



LUCY ATLMER. 299 

" I never missed it, I assure you," said 
Flora, who was too frightened to think 
of any plausible excuse. '* I wore it at 
dinner-time certainly, but I imagined it 
was in my jewel-case now — I never missed 
it. 

" You were too pre-occupied doubtless," 
was the Countess's rejoinder ; " but can you 
imagine, child, it is the bracelet I am thinking 
or caring about. No, what is its value, were 
it ten times as great, compared with the 
disgrace you are bringing upon your family ? 
Flora, you have been a source of trouble and 
anxiety to me from your infancy, until this 
unhappy day !" 

" I know it, mamma, and I have often wished 
myself dead !" Flora whispered. 

" How can you utter such wickedness !" 
exclaimed Lady Anne, craclding her work 
w^th an impatient angry sound — two or three 
rats in the wainscot vrent hurr\nng along, 
tumbling the mortar down in their gambols — 
the wind sighed in the chimney, and the 
wood fire gave out scornfid hisses. The Coun- 
tess sat down again, and fanned herself with 
a bunch of Paradise feathers from off the 



300 LUCY AYLMER. 

mantel-piece, then had recourse to salts. 
Flora stood grasping the table, with no 
power to stir, all self-command completely 
lost. At this juncture, the gong sent forth its 
ponderous summons to prepare for dinner, and 
caused the Countess to exclaim : 

" Flora, this must end by your telling me 
wherefore you visited the w^ithered elm last 
night?" 

" A pleasant nocturnal ramble !" put in Lady 
Anne's provoking voice. 

Again was Lady Flora's old anger aroused. 

'' Anything is better then being with those 
whose only delight, when I am in their pre- 
sence, is to find fault with and reproach 
me. 

'' Stay, stay ; this language is unbearable," 
burst forth the Countess. " Listen, Flora, 
quietly, I command you ! At nine o'clock last 
evening, my daughter — an Erresford, leaves 
the drawing-room, under the false pretences of 
study and rest. At nine o'clock, that man, 
Archer Neville, had left the Manor, and was 
seen on the direct road to tlie Upper Park. 
Can it be possible that my daughter and that 
man met — an Erresford hold converse at night 



LUCY AYLMER. 301 

with an intriguing, presumptuous upstart ?" 
The Countess's voice was shghtly raised. 

The warm colour rushed across Lady Flora's 
face as she exclaimed : — 

" Stop, mamma, I did meet him, and I am 
proud of it !" She trembled from head to 
foot. 

" Flora, wicked child ! how dare you insult 
me — how^ dare you tell me this ? I know" not 
if it is your first meeting ; but it shall be 
your last ! My daughter, ungrateful, un- 
worthy though she be — shall never more dis- 
grace the family name by midnight meetings, 
or an alliance with a man in every way so 
utterly inferior to the noble one she has cast 
off. Descend from Glendowan to Archer 
Neville ! No : hypocritical girl ! No : my voice 
shall prevent this — my interference shall check 
this ! Flora, how dared you — how dared 
he ?" The Countess's voice was nearly 
choked with anger, but she added ; " Flora ! 
you yourself shall put a final stop to this 
shameful intriguing man's presumption — and 
I myself will Avrite." 

" Hush, mamma — stop, mamma !" exclaimed 
Flora, with a fixed, stony look; her treml^ling 



302 LUCY AYLMER. 

hands drew out the ribbon she always wore 
round her neck, and unclasped the locket. 
Something she took out — something she held 
in her trembhng fingers ; then holding up her 
left hand, she cried : " Six months ago he 
placed this here — he, my own, own husband ; 
and for ever, and for ever I shall wear it ! 
Nothing can separate us — nothing can part 
us, but death ! I am his for ever/' She 
uttered this in a sort of wild shriek. 

The Countess looked at her, a cold, stern 
look — then laying her hand on her arm 
said : 

" Go, join him ; and ' henceforth let me see 
your face no more !" The door was opened 
by that proud mother's hand, and without an 
interceding word from her sister, the wretched 
girl stood alone on the cold marble pavement 
of that wide, dreary hall. 

The respective attendants of the three noble 
ladies, waited long and wonderingly in their 
ladies' rooms, with all the paraphernalia 
ready for the evening toilettes ; but their ladies 
came not. Agnese Hstencd at the top of the 
stairs — it was she who had met Archer Neville 
and watched him enter the Park. Stevens 



LUCY AYLMER. 303 

admired herself in the glass. Mrs. Brook, 
the Countess's staid attendant, did a great 
deal to a pair of slippers, destined as an arrow 
at the heart of the head butler. At about 
half-past six, Stevens took refuge in a novel 
lying on Flora's dressing-table, and was so 
lost in its charms, and so bathed in tears over 
a hero contemplating suicide at the loss of a 
heroine with no heart, that she did not hear 
rapid steps ascend the stairs, and tread the 
gallery. Wide started the door, and to her 
dismay and horror. Lady Flora entered and 
wildly flung herself on her bed with her face 
buried in the pillows. 

" Oh, dear me !" cried poor Stevens — this 
was usually her exclamation after a family 
scene. '' Oh, my poor dear lady, what can I 
do for you?" Stevens could do nothing. 

Lady Flora's hands were clasped together 
beneath her face ; and this was sunk deep in 
the pillows. Eau-de-Cologne, cold water, 
salts, were of no avail. They could not be 
applied. All Stevens could do was to stand 
by and ejaculate " Oh dear !" between her 
tears. 

At length, considerably after its time, the 



304 LUCY AYLMER. 

dinner-bell sounded. Then Lady Flora started 
up, and stared wildly at Stevens. Her face 
was flushed scarlet ; her eyes gleamed with a 
vivid brightness ; her hair fell over one side of 
her face, while from the other it was pushed 
away. Round her eyes were two deep, dark 
marks ; and her whole countenance betokened 
extreme agony. Stevens brought some cold 
water ; and Lady Flora bathed her forehead 
for some minutes, till she seemed partially 
revived, her maid looking passively on, accus- 
tomed to scenes, and asking no questions. 
But not a little surprised and startled was she 
when Lady Flora exclaimed, in a hollow 
voice : 

" Put some things together — I am going !" 
" Oh ! my lady, where ? Oh ! my lady, 
what is this?" and poor Stevens wrung her 
hands. 

" I am going to him — to my husband !" 
She raised her hands ; and the maid stood 
aghast at the wedding ring glittering on her 
lady's linger. Again Lady Flora repeated the 
order that her things should be packed, so 
wildly, so strangely, that Stevens obeyed in 
fear, and with tears and sobs, cleared Idoxcs, 



LUCY AYLMER. 305 

drawers, and spread a melange of shawls, 
dresses, and jewellery about. A sort of mock- 
ery it seemed to her lady's forlorn sorrow. 
Lady Flora sat motionless, her forehead resting 
on the back of a chair. She did not appear 
to notice anything till a time-piece on the man- 
tel-shelf struck eight. Then she exclaimed, in 
a tone of grief : 

" It will be too late ! Not all that, Stevens 
— only just a bag and the picture." 

She looked up, and before her, in its gilt 
frame, was the likeness of the calm, sweet 
Lucy gazing down upon her. 

" I will goto her," Flora said, in a whisper, 
as the maid obediently took down her lady's 
painting she had so often admired. The 
picture was carefully wrapped in paper. 
That and a little bag. Lady Flora said, 
was all she required. And, after directing 
Stevens to wrap her in a large cloak, she 
sent her to order a carriage to be got ready 
immediately. 

The servants' hall was all wonder. The 
Countess and Lady Anne were dining as 
usual. What could all this mean ? Stevens 
suggested they were " heartless wretches," 



306 LUCY AYLMER. 

and then went off into hysterics, and was 
angrily conveyed by the housekeeper to her 
own dominions, out of the reach of the host 
of gossiping men and maidens. Another 
quarter of an hour, and the Lady Flora 
crossed the hall, solitary and alone ; and 
without one single farewell entered the 
carriage that was to convey her from her 
home. She gave no directions where to go, 
until asked by the servant, when she said, 
" The new Branstone Station — drive fast !" 
When the door was closed, she sank down 
in the bottom of the carriage, and groaned 
aloud. 

It was a cold, damp night, very different 
from the preceding one. No one went out, 
but from necessity or love. Lucy Aylmer 
went for the latter purpose, to meet her 
Robert on his return from St. Margaret's, 
where he had been to visit Hubert Mostyn. 
She stood at the door of the waiting-room, 
looking anxiously for the arrival of the down- 
train, which was late on account of the fog. 
While she looked forth at the lamps which 
dimly lit the little country station, a tall, 
female figure, wrapped in a long, dark 



LUCY AYLMER. 307 

travelling cloak, passed her. Lucy looked 
at it wonderingly. It disappeared, then 
passed again. This time Lucy followed it 
towards the light of a lamp. A strange 
feeling shot across her, as her suspicions 
were realised, and she discovered the Lady 
Flora. 

" Flora, darling ! what are you doing here ?" 
she asked. 

" Lucy, you will despise me." Flora said in 
a low tone. " You have no secrets." 

There were one or two persons on the plat- 
form, and Lucy drew Flora aw^ay into the 
waiting-room, made her sit down on the 
rough horse-hair sofa, and placing herself by 
her side, gently put up Flora's thick lace veil 
One glance at that w^ild, tearless face, alarmed 
the gentle Lucy, but she strove to be very 
calm, as she said, " Flora, darling ! it is not 
right to come here alone." 

" I am not alone. Roberts is waiting to put 
me in the train." 

" What train, dear ?" Lucy asked amazed. 
Four hours ago. Lady Flora had left her very 
calm, and for her, almost happy. 



308 LUCr AYLMEli. 

" The train for London — Lucy," she added 
in a low whisper. " I am married, and I am 
going to him ! Do not despise me. I have 
deceived every one, and now they have cast 
me out !" 

Lucy felt strangely agitated, as hastily the 
words " Aunt Plora," uttered jestingly to 
Maude on Christmas-Day, flashed back upon 
her ; but she said with her usual self-control, 
" Flora, darling ! I am afraid you are very un- 
happy?" 

" It will soon be over now," she replied as 
she guided Lucy's fingers to hers and made 
them press her ring — " Six months," she 
whispered, " six months ago — that was the 
l"2th of July" — her head sank heavily on 
Lucy's shoulder. 

" Do not go to him, darling, we will send 
for him to come to you/' Lucy said gently — 
" Will you let me take you home with me — 
To-morrow he can be with you?" 

"Oh, he will be angry !" Mora murmured. 
*' I have betrayed his secret. It was to have 
been another week longer — oh ! Lucy, what 
shall I do?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 309 

" Darling, he will not be angry if you stay 
with me ; and Robert shall bring him to you. 
You cannot travel to-night." 

Flora sat upright, and murmured : '' Oh ! 
Archer, Archer 1" 

Lucy uttered no expression of surprise 
at this, the confinnation of her fears ; but 
gently endeavoured to dissuade Flora from 
attempting her journey. She gave way at 
last, saying she would set out by daylight 
on the morrow. 

The down train was three quarters of an 
hour behind its time ; and when Robert 
arrived, Lucy was gone in Lady Flora's 
carriage. He had not expected his little 
wife ; so putting himself in the Squire's dog- 
cart which was awaiting him, and in which 
Lucy had come, he drove home through the 
mist, longing for his fireside after the soli- 
tary journey to the solitary brotherhood. 

Gladly he discovered the lights at the 
vicarage. With a hght heart he threw aside 
the reins ; but what ailed his little wife ? For 
she met him at the door, and told him in 
stifled tones — Lady Flora was dying ! 



310 LUCY AYLMER. 

In Sir Edgar Tyrrell's handsome library, 
a small party Avas assembled, amongst them 
might be seen Archer Neville, leaning back 
in a large easy chair ; his arms crossed, 
his face calm, composed — his heart secure — 
secure of his godfather's treasure, and 
scarcely showing either interest in, or 
attention to an old lawyer in black, 
who held in his liand the will of Sir 
Edgar Tyrrell, whose old enemy the gout, had 
at length carried him off, during Archer's 
absence at Eorsted. No arrangements had 
been made regarding his funeral, and the will 
had an early reading to discover the late 
Baronet's wishes on the subject. The first 
clause in the will bequeathed all the landed 
property to Lady Tyrrell ; then came sundry 
legacies, among them a handsome one for 
Lucy Aylmer ; but to the surprise and dismay 
of some present, after a tolerably large sum 
for the last rites, the whole of Sir Edgar's 
vast funded property fell to the lot of his 
godson and legal adviser. Archer Neville, who 
was to assmne the name of Tyrrell. Some 
present murmur, and some whisper angrily ; 
but Archer sits upright and looks with uncon- 



LUCT AYLMER. 311 

cern at his learned brother, whose puckered 
old face, however, relaxes not a muscle. Just 
one gleam of satisfaction and pleasm-e dances 
in Archer's eyes. Slowly the door opens ; a tall 
servant glides up to him, bringing a pressing 
telegraphic message, which has pursued him 
from May-Fair. What does it say ? It bids 
him come instantly to Worsted Vicarage to the 
death-bed of his wife ! And this blow falls 
just when he thought his hopes were all 
realized. He has lived for riches first, and has 
made his love subservient to his riches. In 
grasping after them, he has lost his Flora ! 
He leaves the Baronet's library, his head high, 
his eyes steady. No one observes any outward 
change ; but even his worldly heart is full of 
bitter thoughts* of self-accusation. The remem- 
brance of his last interview with his neglected 
wife tortures him : it would have crushed 
any man less stony, less rigid than Archer 
Neville ! 

END OF VOL II. 



LONDON : 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 





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